Comprehensive Early Childhood Systems

It is through comprehensive, coordinated early childhood systems that parents obtain the information they need to support their children in getting the best possible start in life. To be effective, this system must respond to the often complex developmental needs of young children and their families.

We develop strategies to overcome existing disconnects in service, promote better service coordination and systems integration including health, mental health, early intervention and child welfare; address training and workforce development issues; and make funding streams work together so that services are delivered efficiently.


The Ounce is actively involved in efforts to build Illinois’ comprehensive early learning system.  Working with the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development, Ounce staff serve in leadership roles, as members or provide support roles to key advisory bodies such as the Illinois Early Learning Council. Other such bodies in which staff participates include the Child Care Advisory Council, the Social Services Advisory Council, and the Illinois Early Intervention Coordinating Council.

The Ounce’s systems-building work in Illinois is supported by the BUILD Initiative, Boeing, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, the Grand Victoria Foundation, the Irving Harris Foundation, The Joyce Foundation,  and the Pritzker Children’s Initiative.


The Ounce national policy team partners with state leaders to expand and improve their early childhood systems. For example, the Ounce helped coordinate discussions with government leaders in Kansas that led to the creation of $11 million in new funding for early childhood programs in 2008.