Playing well with others: a case study of collective impact in the early care and education policy arena
International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy
Increasingly, the early childhood care and education policy arena have been subjected to reform efforts as key areas for improving educational, economic, and other outcomes. These efforts include increasing the number of children served, including younger children in these settings, and raising program quality (Kalicki et al. 2017) . A knowledgeable and supported early childhood care and education workforce have been identified as a pillar of high-performing systems across the globe (Kagan
... e globe (Kagan 2019). Likewise, in the United States, the early childhood care and education workforce has been identified as a leverage point for meeting the goals of access and quality. However, acting on this leverage point by increasing the training and support for the early childhood workforce is complicated by the mixed delivery system in the United States. The early childhood workforce works in a variety of settings, including home child care, child care centers, private preschools, Head Start and Early Start programs, and public schools, which exist within different federal and state funding streams and regulatory frameworks. Early childhood care and education providers are regulated by different state and federal agencies, Abstract The quality and quantity of early childhood care and education services have risen as a key reform area for influencing educational and economic outcomes. However, changes in this policy arena are stymied by the fragmentation of this policy arena. Collaborative approaches have been proposed to create systems-level change. Collective impact is one such approach; however, few examples exist in the early childhood care and education literature, especially at the state level. This ethnographic case study conceptualizes collective impact as a policy network capable of change in a fractured policy arena and reports the results from the first year of a statewide collective impact effort examines stakeholder perceptions of mobilization and development of a common agenda, or shared understandings. The results illustrate the importance of relationship building, ongoing attention to common understandings through multiple processes and mechanisms, the importance of the backbone organization, and the need to attend to mindset shifts that accompany early collective impact work.