Parenting Resource

Understanding Your State’s Public Policy Process

Feb 10, 2016

In order to make the greatest impact on policies affecting babies, toddlers and their families, here are the resources available to help you navigate your state’s particular public policy process.

Every state is unique, and when it comes to public policy, that statement is certainly true. There are commonalities across states; however, each state has its own approach to policymaking.

The Governor

The National Governors’ Association (NGA) is a bi-partisan organization representing the collective voice of the nation’s governors. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with support on a range of key federal issues, including early childhood, through their Center for Best Practices. The NGA web site also includes links to information about each governor and links their web pages.

State Legislative Activity

[The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)( is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories. Check out the “legislatures” section of their web site for general information about each state legislature. Also use their tool to find your state’s legislative web site. NCSL has an early care and education legislative database, which allows you to track early care and education legislation in the states from the most recent legislative year.

The State Budget

The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), is the professional membership organization of state finance officers. State finance officers are essentially the state’s version of a chief financial officer (CFO). The NASBO web site includes a state-by-state directory. And when you click on the link for the state budget office for your state, you will find information about the process and timeline for developing the state’s budget, contact information for state budget office employees (who will answer questions for you) and specific information about the state’s budget.

State Administrative Agencies

State-level program administrators are responsible for implementing the programs established by legislation that is passed into law. State administrators can have significant control over program rules and regulations and can set the course for how services are provided. Each state has its own structure for administrative agencies, and early childhood services are often spread out among a number of state agencies. Go to your state government’s web site to access the state agencies and their leadership.

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