"I couldn't find quality care for Akira. We sent him part time to a place that was more like baby-sitting than school and it was expensive," Taylor Higashi, father of one-year-old Akira, living in Oakland, California
We know from neuroscience, child development research, and economic studies that children’s earliest experiences shape long-term learning, behavior and health outcomes, as well as future earning potential. Ensuring that early experiences are the best they can be is critical to the success of our youngest children.
Many children’s early experiences include care from someone other than their parents. And there is no doubt that families in need of childcare face a daunting task. Current offerings for infants and toddlers can be hard to access, may be poor quality and are often unaffordable. While families may have the ability to choose – between center-based care or in-home care that is either licensed or informal with family, friends and neighbors – many parents are dissatisfied with their options. What if we could build a better ecosystem of reliable, quality care during the earliest years, regardless of whether children are in the care of relatives or neighbors, or formally-licensed settings?
This Opportunity Area calls on innovators to focus on the diverse challenges of supporting children’s early experiences, including: how to improve children’s learning in informal or unlicensed care; how to address affordability of care; and how to scale the level of quality that matters for young children’s development.
In addition, providers who do offer reliable child care often struggle to simultaneously maintain the quality and financial viability of their services. What if we could support caregivers with new business models or financing options, so that they could more sustainably and effectively do their work? Whether helping providers avoid burnout, feel supported and valued, or increase their financial success and the viability of their services, there is a massive opportunity to bolster caregiver success both directly and indirectly.
To further clarify this Opportunity Area, here is an example of an initiative that is designed to support healthy early experiences:
Note that any examples provided are not meant to be limiting, and successful proposals might look very different. Instead, they offer tangible cases that represent this Opportunity Area.