Early Childhood Equity Movement
Building a More Equitable Future for All Children and Families
What began as a study to understand the root causes of inequities we know exist for families of color, became a movement to address the systemic barriers, which unjustly limit access to services that can help all families thrive. In partnership with New Hampshire community members and Child Trends, we sought to understand the strengths and needs of families and children as they access the early childhood system, such as early childhood education, healthcare, and other family strengthening services.
In the spring of 2022, community co-researchers led conversations with families in Spanish, Nepali, Portuguese, Arabic, Swahili, and for Abenaki and African American families. Families shared both community strengths and challenges in accessing services. While each cultural group is unique, themes emerged from our conversations.
- Families expressed a deep appreciation for services that helped meet basic needs such as providing food or interpretation services.
- Coordination, such as services provided by refugee resettlement agencies and Head Start, help families navigate complex, siloed systems of support.
- Kindness and community connections matter and were cited as community strengths in nearly all conversations.
- Families reported feelings of discrimination due to race, gender, economic status, immigration status or English language skills.
- Perceived discrimination and mistrust create unwelcoming environments across our early childhood system.
- Navigating complex service systems causes confusion and frustration.
- Those families who manage to receive services worried about inconsistencies in the quality of services and lack of follow-up to understand progress, especially in healthcare.
- The pandemic further stressed already problematic systems, including childcare, healthcare and developmental services. Families struggled with the transition to virtual services, navigating online systems, and balancing childcare and work with children at home.
We all have a role to play in next steps as we make needed changes to improve access to services for all children and families. Will we acknowledge our role in healing inequities or continue to perpetuate discriminations described by the families we spoke with? We welcome you to join us in the early childhood equity movement.