Cost Modeling for Early Childhood Programs

On October 10, 2018, the ECFC Early Childhood Financing Committee hosted a webinar on cost models for early childhood programs for ECFC members.

Cost models provide a way of forecasting what revenue/investment is needed for early learning. There are published cost models at the state/regional and national levels, as well as organizations that have created cost calculators. Each of these has distinct purposes—some are to model or forecast costs based on “what exists” today whereas others are tied to forecasting costs based on changes in assumptions, large or small, about what is needed. Some of these cost models take place at a system level. In this session, we will start to explore what exists in cost models in order to shore up our understanding of the variety of these and the different purposes that they meet. 


Lynn Karoly is a senior economist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She has conducted national and international research on human capital investments, social welfare policy, child/family well-being, and U.S. labor markets. In the area of child policy, much of her research has focused on early childhood programs with studies on the use and quality of early care and education (ECE) programs, the system of publicly subsidized ECE programs, professional development for the ECE workforce, ECE quality rating and improvement systems, and ECE program costs and financing. In related work, she has examined the costs, benefits, and economic returns of early childhood interventions and has employed benefit-cost analysis more generally to evaluate social programs. Other research has examined issues pertaining to poverty, inequality, immigration, welfare reform, self-employment, and retirement. Karoly received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.


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