A critical analysis of racial disparities in ECE subsidy funding





early childhood education, child care, race, finance, policy, equity


Participation in high-quality early care and education (ECE) is associated with positive academic and social outcomes for children. However, Black and Latinx children are significantly less likely than White children to attend a high-quality ECE program, a disparity that may be linked to differences in funding. Using a critical policy analysis framework, we explored the extent to which Pennsylvania’s tiered funding policy, which awards greater funding to ECE providers with higher quality evaluation scores, differentially benefits children and communities along racial lines. We found that the average Black and Latinx children’s ECE providers received substantially less tiered funding than the average White child’s provider. Funding also varied by the racial composition of children’s communities, with providers serving children from predominantly Black communities receiving far less funding than providers serving children from predominantly White communities. Racial funding gaps widened over time as state policy changed to award greater tiered funding to providers with the highest quality scores. We discuss findings within the context of longstanding historical racism in federal ECE funding policy, and make recommendations for more racially just policy alternatives.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Karen Babbs Hollett, Pennsylvania State University

Karen Babbs Hollett is an advanced doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership Program in the Department of Education Policy Studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is a former elementary school teacher, instructional leader, and director at a state department of education. Her research focuses on racial equity in early care and education (ECE) policy.

Erica Frankenberg, Pennsylvania State University

Erica Frankenberg is a professor of education and demography and Director of the Center for Education and Civil Rights at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests focus on racial desegregation and inequality in PK-12 schools, and the connections between school segregation and other federal, state, and metropolitan policies.




How to Cite

Babbs Hollett, K., & Frankenberg, E. (2022). A critical analysis of racial disparities in ECE subsidy funding. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 30, (14). https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.30.7003



Special Issue: Critical Policy Analysis in Education

Most read articles by the same author(s)