Supporting Effective Early Childhood Advocacy

Published: October 2021

Type: Publication

An evaluation of Save the Children Action Network's early childhood education advocacy across four states.

Kat Athanasiades
Julia Coffman, Headshot
Mariah Brothe Gantz Headshot

This evaluation, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looks at Save the Children Action Network’s (SCAN) early childhood education (ECE) work in four states: New Hampshire, New Mexico, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

Using an evaluative method called contribution analysis, we developed a “contribution story” that assesses SCAN’s contribution to a key ECE policy outcome or win that was achieved between 2018 and 2020 in each state:

  • New Mexico: Establishment of an Early Childhood Trust Fund
  • Tennessee: Doubling of funding for evidence-based home visiting programs
  • South Carolina: Governor’s budgetary commitment to expanding full-day 4K
  • New Hampshire: Governor’s budgetary commitment to a Quality Rating and Improvement System

Against a backdrop of an ideologically and socioeconomically divided electorate and deeply inequitable early childhood education and care systems, at the state level SCAN campaigns for ECE gains, advocating for issues identified and advanced by existing in-state ECE actors and advocate ecosystems.

Several core components of SCAN’s model contribute to their success in advancing ECE gains.

  1. SCAN’s central leverage is its ability to combine 501(c)(4) social welfare organization tactics, like lobbying, with 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization tactics, like public education.
  2. As a six-years-young organization, SCAN is a nimble startup that develops and acts on its rapid feedback loops.
  3. State staff have deep knowledge of state advocacy capacity and bring their relationships and skills to bear on ECE.

This evaluation demonstrated that SCAN has contributed to several ECE victories at the state level over the past few years.

Through the contribution stories, we respond to summative questions about what happened and why within each of the four states. Looking across states, we respond to formative questions about unintended consequences of SCAN’s approach and how SCAN can be an effective partner and ECE advocate when it enters states.

Through its work, SCAN is tackling deeply entrenched problems that are exacerbated by existential global crises. Our hope is that the evaluative information in this report feeds SCAN’s strategic conversations about how it continues to address the simultaneous problems of the COVID-19 pandemic, political churn at the federal and state levels, and inequitable ECE systems. SCAN is making its mark on ECE gains in the US and is learning its way through these times.

Download the full publication above.

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