top of page

Child Care & 
Early Learning

Access to high-quality early care and education (ECE) can have a substantial impact on children’s long-term health, economic, and educational outcomes. Comprehensive studies suggest that high-quality ECE leads to greater school readiness, academic achievement, high school completion, family stability, stable employment, higher income, home ownership, reduced health care expenses, and less crime.

In addition, accessible and affordable ECE options enable parental participation in work, education, job training, or other related activities, leading to a stronger economy.


The ECA is advancing strategies that focus on improving the quality, accessibility, and affordability of child care and early learning environments in Onondaga County. We believe that all children deserve access to safe, responsive, and nurturing environments that best prepare them for success in school and life. In addition, the ECA partners with ECE educators to inform our work and drive systems change that benefit children, families, and ECE professionals in our community.

• Key Initiative •

Child Care Quality Improvement Project

Launched in 2019


In 2019, the ECA and Child Care Solutions invited Grace Reef of the Early Learning Policy Group, LLC to work with the community to identify policy solutions for the county’s struggling child care infrastructure. Reef’s work resulted in the report, Transforming the Early Childhood Landscape in Onondaga County to Promote School Readiness, which combined research on early childhood development and best practice approaches to recommend 10 strategies to transform Onondaga County’s child care landscape. The report ultimately led to the creation of the Child Care Quality Improvement (CCQI) Initiative.

Funded by Onondaga County and managed by Child Care Solutions, CCQI is an actionable plan for improving the quality of child care within Onondaga County’s existing infrastructure of care. In an effort to reach the County’s highest-need children the initiative prioritizes the enrollment of programs that have a high percentage of children receiving child care assistance. CCQI incorporates the following three priorities:


Improving quality across child care programs.


Ensuring children are developing on track and meeting developmental milestones and that, when off-track, their families are supported in connecting them to appropriate services.


Minimizing the negative impact of low pay and turnover for staff.


Increase the quality of child care available to families, resulting in optimal child development and school readiness.

Other Projects

Child Care Snapshot


The ECA's Child Care Snapshot captures recent data, trends, and challenges in Onondaga County’s early learning ecosystem, outlines local strategies that hold promising results, and offers possible next steps to address system barriers. We hope this snapshot arms our community with the local information and context needed to continue centering child care and early learning in our workforce, economic development, and early childhood education conversations.

Centering ECE Provider Voice

In 2021, Onondaga County was selected to be part of the Building Comprehensive Networks Initiative 

through Home Grown. Onondaga County’s team, led by the ECA, brings together Onondaga County DSS, the ECA, and Child Care Solutions to build community capacity, shift policy, and engage providers in the co-creation and design of networks. Centered in this work is the ECA’s Home-Based Provider Steering Committee, a group of licensed and registered group and family child care educators who address the local child care ecosystem with the expressed intent to improve overall quality, access, and affordability. As part of the Steering Committee’s work, the ECA partners with the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation to bring Leading for Change, a 14-week course that cultivates leadership mindsets among participating providers, to Onondaga County.

Child Care Landscape Analysis

In 2021, the ECA sought to better understand how families in Onondaga County access child care. Working in partnership with Child Care Solutions and the Onondaga County Department of Social Services – Economic Security, we commissioned Syracuse University’s Maxwell X Lab and the R/E/D Group to conduct a comprehensive child care landscape analysis. The study provides an overview of the child care landscape in Onondaga County. We aim to use the findings to guide investments and work toward an equitable child care system that supports all children in meeting their full potential.


Megan Wagner-Flynn

Director of Early Learning Strategy

(315) 430-4821

bottom of page