Equity Head Start IL Practice Place-Based Public Policy
Field-building Collaborative
The Hunt Institute | The Education Trust | The Century Foundation | Manny Cantor Center

This project was designed to support educators and policymakers in supporting diverse and inclusive preschool settings.

Context and Need

Young children benefit significantly from exposure to racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic diversity during a crucial formative period. Yet, while the nation’s public schools have become increasingly diverse in recent decades, enrollment data suggests that preschool settings may be considerably less inclusive. Ironically, state and federal efforts to support equity in early childhood may inadvertently undermine the very goals they seek to reinforce. Indeed, the eligibility criteria established for many publicly funded early childhood programs (including Head Start and many state prekindergarten programs) often result in racially homogeneous groupings of children from low-income backgrounds. With increased awareness of this issue and practical policy solutions designed to mitigate it, American policymakers can enable more inclusive preschool settings.


To address this issue, with support from Trust for Learning, The Hunt Institute partnered with The Century Foundation, The Education Trust, and Manny Cantor Center to develop and disseminate policymaker resources designed to promote racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse preschool classrooms. In addition to the brief, Strong Foundations: Promoting Diverse and Inclusive Preschool Settings, audiences on different platforms gained knowledge of key policy recommendations to address this issue through an op-ed in The Hill, and a webinar.


Goals and Impact

As various state and local public efforts are underway to expand prekindergarten, this work holds the potential to be especially impactful, allowing these leaders not only to examine the implications of their current targeting and recruitment, but also plan proactively for what promises to become a significant expansion in the scope of publicly funded preschool.  Also, this project is explicitly designed to alleviate racial, ethnic, and economic inequities within early learning, with the goal of promoting more diverse and inclusive preschool settings.