City of Boston Office of Early Childhood (OEC)

Infrastructure to Support Early Childhood Systems

  • Data Systems

Boston, Massachusetts

In 2022, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the creation of the City of Boston Office of Early Childhood (OEC) to further the City’s commitment to universal, affordable, high-quality early education and care for all children under five, making OEC a key partner to the state Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and the Boston Universal Pre-K (UPK) program. The OEC aims to expand access to early education and child care programs, invest in Boston’s early education and care workforce, and serve as a central point of entry for residents looking for information on early education and child care programming and wraparound services for young children and their families.

With the support of the OEC, Boston’s UPK program plans to integrate family child care programs as approved providers during the 2023–24 school year. This expansion means Boston UPK’s mixed-delivery system will include three types of settings: Boston Public Schools (BPS) classrooms, community-based organizations, and family child care. BPS and OEC will partner with 20 family child care providers, members of the UPK Advisory Board, and other experts to design the new family child care UPK program.

Source: City of Boston (2022). Office of Early Childhood Created to Prioritize Wellbeing of Young Children and Families.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

Strong infrastructure and systems – including governance structures and data systems – are key aspects of high-quality early education and care. And research suggests there is a need for more accessible, affordable, and high-quality early education within a mixed-delivery system; strengthening infrastructure and systems is one important way states and cities can take action to address these needs and accomplish these goals.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) that connect to the need for more robust infrastructure and systems, including data systems:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
  • No one early education setting type is inherently of higher quality than another; children develop and learn well in every setting type, and in the study, all setting types showed room to grow in quality.
  • We have learned a great deal from this groundbreaking, large-scale study. Nevertheless, there is still much to learn about what children, families, and educators need, and about what “works” – for whom and under what circumstances – across all the diverse settings where young children learn and grow.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Boston

Context matters. Visit the Boston profile page to learn more about the city landscape.

Visit the Boston Profile Here
  • The city population is 654,776
  • The percentage of children under age 5 is 4.8%
  • The median family income among households with children is $77,600