Since you are looking at this site with an older browser, you will not be able to see any graphics or formatting. For better results, please upgrade your browser.

Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems
A Key Topic Resource List

Publication Date: July 2007

This Key Topic Resource List on Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) was compiled by Research Connections .

Research Connections conducted a comprehensive search of its collection for resources focused on early childhood comprehensive systems (ECCS). This Key Topic Resource List includes an overview of issues addressed in the literature on early childhood comprehensive systems, as well as a listing of selected resources on the topic. Based on the search results, resources were grouped into the following three categories:

  • Overview of and Recommendations for Building Early Childhood Systems
  • State Examples, Results, and Findings
  • Funding and Maximizing Resources for Early Childhood Systems

From the many results, Research Connections selected a limited number of resources of various types—including reports and papers, fact sheets and briefs, summaries, and reviews. Selection criteria included policy relevance and relatively recent publication.

Within each category, resources are organized according to publisher type and publication date. Research Connection’s one-sentence description is included for each resource on the following list. For complete citations, which include abstracts and full text for some resources, click on the titles.


Early childhood comprehensive systems (ECCS) are collaborations implemented by states or localities, which aim to coordinate multiple early childhood services—including early care and education- to better promote child development by supporting families and communities. These comprehensive systems also seek to ensure that children are healthy and ready to learn at school entry by reducing disparities in access and quality of early care and improving services for those at highest risk. Efforts to form ECCS partnerships involve a range of public and private early childhood agencies, parents, and communities. The key components of these programs are: child health and the medical home; early care and education; mental health and social-emotional development; family support; and parenting education.

States employ a variety of strategies to provide ECCS services to children and families, including expanding access to Early Head Start programs and utilizing Early Head Start Program Standards when developing new models, building networks of trained mental health consultants to work with parents and child care providers, and using direct program contracts to link families to needed services. For these partnerships to be effective, they must follow high program standards and approved early learning guidelines, hire qualified trainers and caregivers and offer adequate compensation, and provide linkages for families to a wide-array of services that promote child development. However, a variety of challenges interfere with the development of strong ECCS partnerships, such as poor coordination of services, inferior quality of services, and difficulty serving all of those in need—especially the youngest children and the neediest families.

Research on this topic discusses the essential components of ECCS programs, highlights new state and community initiatives, describes the many challenges facing state leaders with ECCS implementation, reviews a range of governance structures and funding strategies that enable maximization of resources, and presents creative ways to form successful ECCS partnerships. Studies also explore emerging questions and areas of concern such as:

  • What do successful collaborative processes look like? What strategies have been effective in alleviating costs of care for low-income families?
  • How have communities and states worked together to create viable funding streams?
  • What barriers do families face in accessing high-quality services for their young children?
  • What challenges do providers and service agencies face in serving their target population?

For more information or additional Key Topic Resource Lists, please go to the Research Connections website.