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Cost Modeling and Estimating

Bold advocacy begins with a knowledge of the full scope of the need, and effective and reliable cost modeling can play in important foundational role in strategic planning. Some advocates make full projected costs a part of their public case to legislators and the public, while others use the projections as the starting point for internal advocacy planning. 

Either way, actionable modeling can be a highly effective tool in advocacy. 



50-State Child Care Cost Model

Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies -- Prenatal to Five Fiscal Strategies developed the 50-state child care cost model to help estimate the true cost of child care in every state. The model includes default data for each state as well as the ability to enter your own data for several variables.

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Deep Dive: The Role of a Fiscal Agenda in Increasing and Targeting Investments for Infants and Toddlers

BUILD Inititiave -- This presentation seeks to support states in developing a fiscal agenda that is coherent and includes coordinated investments for the prenatal to three period. It provides introductory content on setting a fiscal agenda, why, what it includes, and what it impacts.

Why We Need Both: Cost Models and the Market Rate Survey

Bipartisan Policy Center — BPC’s child care experts break down what cost modeling is and how it can inform investments in child care. Watch the webinar. (2022)

Charting The Path Forward for Child Care: Using Cost Modeling to Design New Solutions

Bipartisan Policy Center — This in-depth 2022 explainer from BPC offers a broad overview of cost-modeling, defines terms, and offers concrete recommendations. (2022)

Five Tips for Improving Cost Modeling for Early Childhood Education

Children’s Funding Project — This blog post provides information and tips that are helpful to states when taking on a cost modeling approach. (2022)

Understanding Cost Models (Funding Our Kids 101)

Children's Funding Project — This paper is a primer on identifying the per child and total costs of providing a specific program or service, like child care or an after-school activity; and how changes in employee wages, program quality and structure, and/or geographic location impact those overall costs.

State Fiscal Modeling Resources and Studies

P5 Fiscal Strategies -- P5 Fiscal Strategies compiles numerous early childhood revenue resources on its site, including a resource list of cost-modeling tools and and a clearinghouse of state cost-modeling reports.

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State-by-State Cost Modeling Reports

Children's Funding Project -- This resource contains links to reports on cost modeling studies. Most of the reports pertain to child care, preschool, rate setting, and quality rating and improvement systems.

Understanding Fiscal Maps (Funding Our Kids 101)

Children’s Funding Project — This paper is a primer on documenting and analyzing the various sources of funding that support programs and services for children and youth in a state, city, or county. (2022)


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Transforming the Financing of Early Care and Education

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine -- This comprehensive report outlines a framework for a funding strategy that will provide reliable, accessible high-quality early care and education for young children from birth to kindergarten entry, including a highly qualified and adequately compensated workforce.The recommendations of this report are based on essential features of child development and early learning, and on principles for high-quality professional practice at the levels of individual practitioners, practice environments, leadership, systems, policies, and resource allocation.


Early Childhood Finance Toolkit: A Curated Resource to Support State Leaders in a Mixed Delivery System

PDG B-5 TA Center, Office of Child Care, HHS — These resources can provide state leaders with guidance and support as they develop and/or refine a more comprehensive and aligned fiscal system in multiple early childhood settings, including child care, Early Head Start/Head Start, health, home visiting, mental health, Part B and Part C, and state-funded prekindergarten.

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Cost of Preschool Quality & Revenue Calculator

Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes -- This State Administrative Cost of Quality (SACQ) budget planning tool helps users generate data on the functions and costs of the state infrastructure to implement, monitor and sustain quality of early childhood programs. SACQ can be integrated into the CPQ&R to determine costs and funding sources related to implementing high-quality preschool programs.

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Conducting a Child Care Cost of Quality Study: A Toolkit for States and Communities

Center for American Progress — This toolkit is designed to help policymakers, program administrators, researchers, and advocates better understand the true cost of operating a high-quality, licensed child care program in their state or community.

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Where Does Your Child Care Dollar Go? -- This powerful tool helps the general public understand the contradiction of the high cost of child care and poverty-level child care wages, all with actual cost figures specific to their state. Advocates can also use the tool for easy-to-access state-specific cost data.