Preschool Development Grants Provide Opportunities to Support Equity Through Data

The federal investment has the transformative power to create positive change in ECE systems, including making systems more equitable.
Blog Post
Feb. 21, 2023

In late January, the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced the award of nearly $300 million to 42 states through the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) initiative. The Early Childhood Data Collaborative (ECDC) at Child Trends is thrilled to add our voices of congratulations to those states! The federal investment of PDGs has the transformative power to create positive change in ECE systems, including making systems more equitable. In this blog, we share lessons for state leaders on specific populations' ECE needs, ways data can be a critical investment in ECE families and the workforce, and details on an upcoming framework that can guide equity efforts.

In this latest round of funding, states receiving PDG funds have the opportunity to focus on the systems that affect children, families, and the workforce. In the words of ACF, PDGs are a way to promote and strengthen equity efforts in existing early childhood systems and “invest in holistic early childhood systems that meet the unique needs of families where they are.” As state leaders implement their plans for the new PDG funds, we urge them to think of data as a critical investment in their equity efforts. Collecting and using data will help leaders identify and understand persistent inequities. Data can inform planning around equity efforts and the continuous improvement of related policies and practices.

A key part of the larger birth-to-five ECE system is publicly available pre-kindergarten programs that serve three- and four-year-old children. Pre-K has incredible potential, with a rich research base supporting the fact that high-quality pre-K programs can play a key role in strengthening children’s early and later learning and development. When there is greater access to high-quality pre-K experiences, all children, families, and the pre-K workforce benefit. However, many groups of children and families lack access to such programs. In a recent brief, Pre-K Data on Children, Families, and Workforce Members from Focal Populations Can Help Decision Makers Create More Equitable Systems, we walk through the academic literature on six populations that experience bias and discrimination based on race and ethnicity, language,  incomedisability status, and/or immigration status. The brief describes the circumstances faced by a number of different families and ECE workforce members, including:

There are also many children, families, and members of the workforce who have identities in more than one of the groups above that can compound challenges and bring unique strengths, traditions, and resilience.

The critical barriers that these groups face underscore the need to better understand their experiences and collect consistent, national data to comprehensively address inequities within the pre-K system. Although pre-K programs and systems currently gather a lot of data, it can be siloed in different programs or by different funding streams. To help address this challenge, we are currently developing a Pre-K Data Equity Framework that will be launched in fall 2023, designed to help federal, state, territory, Tribal, and local leaders:

  • Answer key questions about their pre-K systems, and specifically about populations that have been marginalized by racism and systemic inequities;
  • Offer guidance on data needed to understand and address issues related to equity in pre-K;
  • Assess data gaps and integration needs to support the use of pre-K data; and
  • Inform action steps for creating a more equitable pre-K system based on the data they collect and the questions they are answering.

To learn more about the Framework, you can check out our project webpage, email the project team at, or sign up to receive the ECDC Newsletter.

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