Help our children with quality education

Childcare is a human right

The DC Early Learning Collaborative is an alliance of more than 100 education professionals, organizations, and coalitions working together to advocate for improved early childhood education policy, investment, and services.

Mother playing with her young child

Our Mission

Advocacy and Policy

We help to create policies that further our cause. By fighting for the right thing, we get one step closer to the goal.

Workforce Development

Inspiring a workforce that is educated and able to take on the future. This comes from spreading knowledge in our community.

Provider Compensation

We offer compensation to our providers because they help keep our mission going. Without them, we wouldn't be here.

Organizational Membership

We have a strong base of members and are always growing. Our members get access to events and volunteer opportunities.

Organizational Capacity Building

Having a sustainable organization is not easy. That is why we help build the capacity to a max and continue providing support.

Volunteer Involvement

We wouldn't be able to do what we do without the help of our great volunteers. By volunteering, you can make a difference.

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The DC Early Childhood Education Collaborative is an alliance of more than 100 education professionals, organizations, and coalitions working together to advocate for improved early childhood education policy, investment, and services. 

Woman with two children

Our Projects

At work for our community

Networking
Sharing with our community
Advocacy group for children & families
Community organizing
Creating policy

Meet our team

DCELC is the leading non-profit organization working consistently and collaboratively with public and private partners to dramatically reduce the current 29,000 shortage in infant and toddler slots.

Carrie Thornhill

Executive Director
Working to ensure all publicly funded birth to three and Pre-K programs are of high quality, affordable and accessible to all eligible children and families in the District of Columbia..

Dcelc history Timeline

DC Early Learning Collaborative

DCELC

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1964

Washington DC‘s Anacostia Pre-School Project serves as a pilot site for the Federal Head

1972

Washington DC‘s Public Schools (DCPS) becomes one of the first jurisdictions in the country to offer pre-Kindergarten to four-year

1979

The Mayor‘s Advisory Committee on Early Childhood Development (MACECD) is established to hold public hearings on early childhood education issues; increase public awareness of programs; recommend methods of upgrading services; and improve communications between providers, the public and the government.

1989

A report by the DC Committee on Public Education (COPE) calls attention to critical problems in DCPS, including declining achievement levels as students moved through grades; the poor condition of school facilities; and lack of accountability among school and related agencies. The report makes several recommendations for public school reform, including the need to expand and upgrade the quality and quantity of early childhood programs. In response nearly 500 pre- Kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms across the city are refurbished.

1990

A coalition of business, government and community organizations forms the DC Early Childhood Collaborative. The Collaborative pools public and private sector resources to improve the well-being of DC children and families. In 1993, the Collaborative establishes the Frederick Douglass Early Childhood Development and Family Support Center. The Center is later turned over to DCPS to operate.

1990

A coalition of business, government and community organizations forms the DC Early Childhood Collaborative. The Collaborative pools public and private sector resources to improve the well-being of DC children and families. In 1993, the Collaborative establishes the Frederick Douglass Early Childhood Development and Family Support Center. The Center is later turned over to DCPS to operate.

Our Proud Partners

Because of our partners we are doing better for more people!

Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-Kindergarten – 3 and 4 year olds
• Collaborated with then City Council Chairman Vincent Gray to lead the city-wide public awareness and community mobilization campaign Pre-K for All DC. This campaign resulted in unanimous passage of the city’s nationally recognized legislation: the Pre-kindergarten Expansion and Enhancement Act of 2008, providing universal and free PreK- for all 3 and 4 year olds in the District of Columbia.
• Helped position the District of Columbia to become the nation’s leading jurisdiction in the provision of access and public investment in early childhood services and opportunities. Using a diverse delivery system of public schools and community based organizations, as of 2018, the District serves 72% or 6187 of 3 year olds and 86 percent of 4 year olds or 7,318 for a total of 13,505 children. The District spends over $13,000 per child, substantially outranking all other jurisdictions around the country.
Birth to Three – Zero to 3
• Worked closely with the Bainum Family Foundation and leading non-profits in the District to help craft and advocate the 2018 Birth to Three for All DC legislation that was passed unanimously by the DC City Council with first year funding. The legislation provides for a comprehensive system of services, supports and the prospects for multi-year investments in education and health services.

• The Collaborative is serving as a guardian of the purposes and vision inherent in the Pre-K and B-3 legislation and a leading advocate for the full implementation of the laws with fidelity
• The Collaborative’s current policy agenda is to help the city produce a comprehensive, sustainable system of services, supports and investments for children birth to school entry and extending those supports to where they are needed most, Wards 7 & 8, the east end of the city. As a part of this agenda, the Collaborative is focused on making improvements to the workforce of early learning professionals, particularly increased credentialing and compensation for classroom teachers and directors.
• The Collaborative is supporting a city wide campaign to secure the multi-year public investments needed to fully implement the landmark Birth to Three legislation.

• The first five years of a child’s life are more formative than at any other stage, creating either a sturdy or a fragile foundation. Seventy-five percent of brain growth and 85% of intellectual, personality, and social skills develops before age 5. To make the most of these early years, children need consistent and nurturing care, safe and stimulating environments, nutritious food and attention to their physical needs, and opportunities to engage in positive interactions with adults and other children.
• High-quality early learning services and opportunities serve as the foundation for the success of the District’s Pre-K-12 school reform efforts, the city’s workforce development initiatives and the city’s long-term economic vitality.
• An effective monitoring and advocacy mechanism is needed to ensure all eligible children from infancy through school entry receive the great start and sustainable public investments, resulting in positive outcomes for children and families in the District of Columbia.
• DCELC is the leading non-profit organization working consistently and collaboratively with public and private partners to dramatically reduce the current 29,000 shortage in infant and toddler slots and to ensure all publicly funded birth to three and Pre-K programs are of high quality and affordable to all eligible children and families in the District of Columbia..

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