Supporting Facility Improvements for D.C. Providers Through the Early Learning Quality Fund
The Early Learning Quality Fund (ELQF) is a program for licensed early learning providers in Wards 7 and 8 in the District of Columbia. It is designed to help them improve their facilities to provide safe, high-quality early environments for infants and toddlers (ages 0 to 3). The fund, a partnership between the Bainum Family Foundation and Reinvestment Fund, aims to add 625 high-quality early learning seats in Wards 7 and 8 by 2020.
Facility upgrades can be complex, time-consuming and costly. That’s why the ELQF will provide both technical assistance and financing (through a $3.8 million loan fund established by the Foundation) to help providers make the necessary improvements. These upgrades will help providers meet the highest level of quality in the District’s new Capital Quality rating system and achieve Early Head Start Standards.
Advance work on the program launched in fall 2017 and took about a year to complete. It is intended to prepare providers to make capital improvements and add sustainable high-quality seats. The work began with a supply and demand analysis of early childhood education in the District to help target investments where they are needed most. The study findings were released in November 2018 in a report, “Early Learning Supply & Demand in the District of Columbia: Using Data to Identify Critical Gaps.” The findings were also shared in an interactive online map, Early Childhood Map DC, which is available at ecmapdc.org.
Armed with these insights, Reinvestment Fund will use ELQF resources to make loans to qualifying early learning providers in order to finance the addition of high-quality seats in Ward 7 and 8.
The following design guides were developed to support the work of the ELQF. They help early learning providers in D.C. understand the relevant regulations and design principals for creating optimal environments for young children in centers and homes.