Convened by the Boston Opportunity Agenda, the Birth to Eight Collaborative includes parents and more than 200 representatives from early education centers, family childcare, nonprofit organizations, schools, public health, philanthropy and medical institutions.
The Birth to Eight Collaborative focuses on five strategies to ensure all young children are ready for sustained success in kindergarten and beyond. Click on each strategy to learn more about the work.
Child-care infrastructure is critical to the city’s economy and the sectors of education and public health. Yet not all families can access this critical infrastructure. The Birth to Eight Collaborative is working to expand access to high-quality early education and care for the families who need it most. Family Child Care entrepreneurs provide families with culturally affirming, flexible care that meets their needs. In partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement and Shared Services of Massachusetts, we are focused on expanding and strengthening Family Child Care in Boston.
Developmental screening of young children helps to identify where they are thriving and areas where they may need additional support. Before the pandemic, it was important for young children to be screened so that they could be connected to services. Since the pandemic, that need has become critical. Young children and their families have been separated from the activities and services that help them grow and develop. Ensuring that each child is screened and connected to the supports they need guarantees that all children are ready for sustained success in kindergarten and beyond. In partnership with DRIVE, we are working to screen and connect every child in Boston.
Family engagement is a critical element in high-quality child-centered and family-serving organizations. When done well, effective family engagement builds strong relationships between program providers and families that enable parents/caregivers to feel comfortable sharing their perspectives and receiving feedback. In turn, families that are engaged in their children’s early education and care programs participate actively leading to improved child outcomes, better attendance, and stronger programs.
The early childhood sector is diverse and complex. Much of the early childhood policy and programming is driven by the state and federal government. In recent years, Boston has complemented these resources with its own investments in Universal Pre-K (UPK) and in strengthening family childcare options. The complexities of early care and learning and successful alignment to the K-12 system call for careful and consistent attention to various systems and components: family supports and engagement, childcare, developmental screening and early intervention, preventative health care, workforce development, etc. The Birth to Eight Collaborative is working to develop the infrastructure for aligning and assessing early education and care & K–12 systems.
Through our research and advocacy on early education and care, the Birth to Eight Collaborative is working to raise the visibility of and investment in early education and care for policymakers, philanthropy and the business community. We report annually on the supply, demand, quality and affordability of childcare in Boston as well as other critical issues that impact the sector.
The work of the Collaborative is guided by a cross-sectional group of leaders from throughout Greater Boston. This Leadership Group is further supported by work being done by a number of committees, working on the following topics:
- Quality Birth to Three
- Family Engagement
- Maximizing Health
- Kindergarten Readiness
- Developmental Screening
To learn more or volunteer to join one of the committees, click on the button below to connect with Executive Director Kristin McSwain.
Boston Opportunity Agenda
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
Boston Public Health Commission
Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester
Danubia Camargos Silva
The Boston Foundation
Office of Early Childhood, City of Boston
Family Nurturing Center
Health Resources in Action
Dr. Michael Yogman
Chair, Child Mental Health Task Force
Mass Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
Dr. Benjamin Siegel
Smart from the Start, Board of Directors
Strategies for Children