About WeVision EarlyEd
WeVision EarlyEd supports families, early childhood education professionals and other advocates working to generate equitable and practical solutions that improve the quality and effectiveness of the child care system.
We envision a child care system that helps all young children achieve their full potential. This system:
- Is viewed as a public good and supported with increased federal and local funding
- Provides equitable access to a range of options that meet the unique needs of young children and families
- Recruits, retains and fairly pays competent early childhood professionals
- Provides consistent and predictable quality
Defining our terms
Terms to describe the care and education of young children are often used interchangeably but actually mean very different things. When we use these terms, this is what we mean.
- Child Care
Child care is the umbrella term used to describe situations in which caregivers (beyond a child’s parents or immediate guardians) are responsible for the care and development of young children. These caregivers can be a family member (e.g., a grandparent) supporting a child in the child’s home or the family member’s home; a trusted community member (e.g., individual, organization or organized network) supporting a child; a nanny or au pair, often living with the family; or caregivers supporting a group of children in a setting outside the child’s home (e.g., a center-based or home-based program).
- Early Childhood Education (ECE)
Early childhood education (ECE) is a specific child care option that focuses on supporting and documenting child and program outcomes, typically outside the home. ECE’s aims go far beyond keeping children safe while the adults in their families work or attend school. It intentionally supports the cognitive, physical, social and emotional development of young children through learning facilitated by early childhood educators with industry-recognized credentials and postsecondary degrees.
- Day Care
Day care is a common term for out-of-home care, but it does not account for the complexity involved in ensuring the development and learning of young children, nor does it pay the appropriate respect to the individuals working in out-of-home settings. Thus, it is not a term that WeVision EarlyEd uses as a substitute for child care or ECE.
- Proximity Experts
Proximity Experts is a term we generated to describe the families, early childhood educators and administrators who provided the data and expertise to guide the direction of this initiative. These experts have specialized knowledge and lived experiences with the child care system. They spend most of their week making sure young children are supported and, in some cases, supporting other families. Typically, in human-centered design work, they would be referred to as product “users.” To us, they are much more than that.
Why does early childhood matter?
What occurs during the first five years of life, and especially the first three, has a substantial impact on children’s short- and long-term outcomes. These years are the basis of all development and learning that benefit everyone — children, families and society. That’s why children need enriching environments and experiences that help them develop cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally.
Why are we launching WeVision EarlyEd in Washington, D.C.?
Washington, D.C. has long recognized the value of supporting young children and families, as evidenced by:
- Adoption of universal public prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds in 2008, which has resulted in the highest levels of enrollment for pre-K 3 and pre-K 4 in the country
- Passage of Universal Paid Family Leave Amendment Act in 2016, followed by implementation in 2020
- Passage of the ground-breaking Birth-to-Three For All DC Act of 2018, which created a comprehensive blueprint for early childhood supports and services
- Creation of the Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund, which will work toward pay parity for early childhood educators (starting in 2022 with $54 million in funding for one-time supplemental compensation of up to $14,000 per educator)
A movement of diverse early childhood advocates and the support of local policymakers have established a precedent for improving the child care system, and by many measures, D.C. is a national leader.
But major challenges remain, especially related to services for infants and toddlers. We know we can do better. WeVision EarlyEd will build on and complement D.C.’s strong foundation to continue making the ideal system real locally, while serving as a model for the country.
What is WeVision EarlyEd?
WeVision EarlyEd is a catalyst for making the ideal child care real — as defined by those closest to the system: families, educators and administrators. This ideal system would feature appropriate and equitable funding; simple and streamlined processes; more consistent quality; and shared policy decision-making.
WeVision EarlyEd is flipping the top-down approach to policy development by engaging those closest to young children and the vital work of child care.
WeVision EarlyEd is designed to guide necessary conversations and test ideal solutions — beginning with the District of Columbia and then influencing other communities across the nation.
WeVision EarlyEd is also intended to shift the outdated thinking — often based on racial, gender and class biases — that holds current problems with the child care system in place. Without these critical shifts, transformation cannot happen.
Although we know that many other interrelated systems and services play a role in supporting child development and family well-being, we are explicitly — and intentionally — focused only on the child care system.
What is the Bainum Family Foundation?
The Bainum Family Foundation, based in the Washington, D.C., area, has been supporting the well-being of children and families for more than five decades in multiple locations across the country.
Over the past seven years, our foundation has invested more than $40 million in early childhood education in D.C., and with our partners in the lead, we’ve made some important advances. But we heard from our partners that the community needs more sustainable and comprehensive solutions, and we responded. WeVision EarlyEd is a way to elevate the voices of community experts and pave the way for new and bold ideas that will challenge the inequities and shortcomings of the current child care system.
At the foundation, we strive to continue moving toward an ideal child care system. In addition to seeding the development and launch of WeVision EarlyEd, we are committing an initial $6 million to begin to test ideal solutions generated by the families, educators and administrators who have been part of the initiative.