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Developing Fiscal Analyses and Children’s Budgets to Support ECCS and Children
Short Take No. 3

Author: Kay Johnson
Publication Date: September 2006

This is an excerpt from the full brief.

The Issue

This Project THRIVE Short Take offers state Early Childhood Comprehensive System (ECCS) initiatives practical advice on conducting fiscal scans and creating early childhood budgets. Fiscal analysis and planning are essential for building a state or community fiscal infrastructure to support and sustain early childhood comprehensive system plans. Says one state ECCS coordinator, “ECCS initiatives must achieve a deep understanding of the budget in order to influence the policy decisions that impact young children. A cross-system plan without a cross-system budget is difficult to implement.”

Using a “how to” approach, this document offers exemplary approaches, tables, and tools. It builds on program-by-program background information from NCCP’s Spending Smarter report, as well as information from a recent report published by the Forum for Youth Investment and the Finance Project. It also highlights state and local experience in fiscal analysis.

Why Fiscal Analyses and Children’s Budgets Are Important

Policy decisions are more likely to have traction if they are informed by a clear understanding of the fiscal context. Fiscal analyses and children’s budgets can help to answer important questions about early childhood systems: (1) What dollars are allocated to services and programs for young children and their families? (2) What is the source of these funds? (3) Is spending increasing or decreasing? (4) How might we blend and braid local, state, federal, and private funds to address unmet needs and promote the optimal development of our youngest children?

Fiscal analyses and early childhood budgets can provide information to:

  • Foster informed decisions among policymakers.
  • Understand the amount and purposes of current spending on young children and trends over time.
  • Identify gaps and unnecessary or duplicative spending.
  • Nurture collaboration and/or partnerships among state entities pursuing similar goals or program objectives.