Year Published: 2011

Authors: Georgia Hall, Wendy Wagner Robeson

 Children's Investment Fund was established in 1991 to increase the supply and quality of early childhood education (ECE) and out-of-school time (OST) facilities for children from low-and moderate-income families in Massachusetts. The Fund's mission is to ensure that children spend their days in physical environments that support healthy development and learning. The Fund provides loan and grant financing, technical assistance, and training to nonprofit ECE and OST organizations planning facilities projects.

The Children's Investment Fund is affiliated with the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC). CEDAC is a public-private, community development finance agency that provides financial and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations involved in affordable housing development and preservation and to agencies that promote workforce development. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts created CEDAC in 1978 to serve as a resource for nonprofit organizations engaged in community economic development.

The Research Team and Methodology:
Wellesley Centers for Women, an organization known for its research and policy work on ECE and OST quality, and On-Site Insight, an engineering firm known for its capital needs assessments, conducted the research and data analysis. The research team worked with Children's Investment Fund to develop evidence-based Program Facility Standards and the research methodology. The Facilities Inventory examined existing conditions in a random sample of 182 licensed sites across Massachusetts to provide a statewide data report and a separate Boston report. The complete Program Facilities Standards and the two data reports are on the Children's Investment Fund website at The Facilities Inventory sample was drawn from licensed nonprofit ECE and OST centers in communities with a high proportion of low-income children. All programs in the sample serve children whose families receive pubic tuition subsidies. On-Site Insight made the field visits to assess site conditions. Equipped with a tablet computer and instruments for collecting data on a variety of physical conditions, researchers spent approximately half a day at each of the 182 sites.

The physical environment is a dimension of quality that is often overlooked, yet it is the setting where learning takes place, and it has a measurable impact on program quality. The Children's Investment Fund commissioned the Facilities Inventory, the first-ever comprehensive review of early childhood education (ECE) and out-of-school-time (OST) facilities, to determine whether physical learning environments support policymakers' and educators' ambitious educational goals for children at risk, or whether some spaces might actually interfere with successful teaching and learning.

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