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ECE Business Collaboratory

The ECE Business Collaboratory is an innovative national collaboration to support state efforts to coordinate their local child care systems. The Collaboratory, launched in the fall of 2020, offers connections, ideas, innovations, and investment and implementation strategies for states working to strengthen their local child care systems.

Child care in America is a $47 billion industry comprised of small, independent businesses, franchises, and nonprofits and employing more than two million people. Approximately 12 million children under age five are in some form of child care in the U.S., but the country faces a severe child care shortage. The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism have further exposed and exacerbated this crisis.

To confront those issues head on, First Children’s Finance has created an innovative national collaboration to strengthen states’ efforts to coordinate their local child care systems. First Children’s Finance officially announced the formation of the ECE Business Collaboratory.


Why bring states together to solve the child care crisis?

  • Our nation faces a child care shortage. Supply simply does not meet demand, and states are seeking actionable, customized solutions.

  • Child care is essential. The Collaboratory team seek to sustain and grow the field in a way that reflects the needs, communities, and assets of each state.

  • Child care is a powerful, and complex, business. It’s a $47 billion industry comprised of small independent businesses and small non-profit organizations, along with public institutions, as well as private, federal, state, local, and philanthropic funding.

  • The dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic inequities have exposed and exacerbated the crisis. State teams are ready to address this moment of crisis and ongoing complexities with innovation, action, and strategic thinking.

  • States are uniquely positioned to strengthen and coordinate local systems. States can ensure a sustainable supply of quality child care – and realize great ROI (16:1).

First Children’s Finance noted the lack of dedicated space, resources, and opportunities states need to innovate, collaborate with, and learn from their counterparts. We launched The Collaboratory explicitly to provide this – helping states move much more quickly and effectively to improve child care sustainability.


We’re engaging 14 states in a shared effort to strengthen child care systems.


Over the next 3 years, The Collaboratory will provide learning and convening opportunities, investment, and technical support as these teams address local child care business issues, share best practices and ideas with their counterparts across the country, and implement effective, locally-tailored strategies for a sustainable child care system.

The state teams are comprised of public officials, nonprofits, employers, funders, and child care operators and were selected through a competitive application process.

Want to learn more about the Collaboratory? We invite you to visit the project management website for detailed information!

ECE Business Collaboratory Project Management Website