The Center for Early Learning Funding Equity (CELFE) was established to develop and promote research- and data-informed strategies to transform funding of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs for children ages 0-5. Housed in Northern Illinois University’s Division of Outreach, Engagement and Regional Development (OERD), CELFE works in collaboration with academic, data and research partners across the NIU system through the Research and Data Collaborative (RDC).
CELFE began its work focused primarily on Illinois’ ECEC system, in which our Director, Theresa Hawley, Ph.D. has spent almost 30 years in as a researcher, advocate, and a government systems change leader – working to improve ECEC polices with children and families at the center. Now, CELFE is building on that experience and the passion for systems-change of the diverse and skilled team of five (and growing) to focus more deeply on the funding adequacy and equity of the ECEC system. The scope and reach of CELFE is expanding to include all states and municipalities interested in transformation. CELFE is currently engaged in projects with Massachusetts and Colorado in addition to Illinois.
CELFE is in start-up mode and has the need to quickly scale-up our internal capacity to meet the growing need of states and clients interested in understanding how to transition their own ECEC systems through an equity lens, with children and families remaining at the center. As such, we are hiring a Research Specialist and Senior Policy Associate to support current projects and develop new client-based work.