On Your Mind: Partnership for Success – Philanthropy & Local Government

July 25, 2023 - (3 min read)

NLC reached out to the Buffet Early Childhood Fund’s Director of Strategic Partnerships, Eric Buchanan to ask what is on his mind about early childhood success.

Eric Buchanan, Buffet Early Childhood Fund, Lincoln, Nebraska

National League of Cities: What is one thing keeping you up at night when you think about the young children and families in your community?

Eric Buchanan: There are several things I could cite, but what concerns me most is the seeming disconnect between the rhetoric of policymakers about the value of supporting children and families and the reality of what gets funded with public dollars. If supporting the healthy growth, education, and development of children is a priority, why are these areas chronically underfunded.

NLC: How is the foundation viewing local government, cities, towns, and villages, as part of the solution to improve early childhood outcomes?

EB: Local governmental entities have a critical role to play in child outcomes for our youngest learners. They are also important actors in expanding access to high-quality services. Local governments (in partnership with advocates, families, and providers) have demonstrated time and again that much can be achieved through commitment, innovation, authentic partnerships, and funding.

At the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, we would like to see local governments incentivized by their state early learning systems to do more. Fundamentally, we believe that communities know what is best for their constituents. Government has an important role to play not only through funding but in its ability to bring stakeholders to the table.

NLC: What are you seeing from local elected and government officials to support the well-being of children and families in the earliest years of development?

EB: Across the country, local elected officials are leading the charge for equity-centered approaches to support young children and their families. Many are entering public service because they believe good public policies center children and families. I hesitate to single out individuals for their leadership as there are many; however, I will cite one person I know and one person I have admired from afar. The first is Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird of Lincoln, NE. I have seen up close her personal and political commitment to improving and expanding access to high-quality childcare. The second–whom I’ve never met–is Harris County, Texas, Jude Linda Hidalgo. She gets it. Going forward, I believe that voters are going to reward candidates of all parties that authentically feature equity-centered early care and education services as part of their platforms.

This blog post is part of the On Your Mind series featuring local leaders and early childhood champions across the country. NLC’s Early Childhood Success team supports members so every city, town, and village has healthy babies and happy families, and all children are thriving by 3, ready at 5, and on their way by 8, So All Children Thrive. Contact the team at ECteam@nlc.org and sign up for the quarterly newsletter.