Early Learning & Development in
Rhode Island

Every family with young children needs support in order to thrive. Investments in early childhood have proven long-term benefits for children, their families, and society. Effective early childhood programs and family support initiatives provide a solid foundation for development and learning, help to prevent and reduce achievement gaps, and impact the likelihood of success for children throughout their life.

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT is coordinating the RIght from the Start campaign to develop and advance policies benefiting infants, toddlers, and young children. 


Early Leaning Illustration

Our Publications

Factbook Indicators



  • Policy Brief: Early Intervention Financing, Staffing, and Access in Rhode Island, 2021 - During the first few years of life, children develop the basic brain architecture and social-emotional health that serves as a foundation for all future development and learning. Infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities and those who face significant family circumstances need extra help and should receive high-quality Early Intervention services to develop essential language, social-emotional, and motor skills to reduce the need for services when they are older.
  • Bilingual Fact Sheet on Family Child Care: Building and Sustaining a High-Quality Family Child Care System in Rhode Island, 2020.
    • Family child care, or paid child care that takes place in the home of a licensed provider, is an essential part of the child care and early learning system in Rhode Island and nationally. It is particularly important for infants and toddlers, children of color, and low-income families. 
    • The Fact Sheet offers recommendations in three key areas: (1) Stabilize the family child care system, (2) Invest in staffed family child care networks, and (3) Include family child care in the state's comprehensive, mixed-delivery early care and education system. 
    • Recognizing the fact that many family child care providers speak Spanish only (or speak both English and Spanish), we have made this publication available in both English and Spanish.
  • Special Publication: Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children collaborated on Improving the Compensation of Effective Infant/Toddler Educators in Rhode Island, December 2019. This report was developed by a state task force that reviewed current data, researched national best practices, and developed a set of recommended strategies to improve the compensation of infant/toddler educators who work in child care, family home visiting, and Early Intervention programs. Please read the Final Task Force Summary here
  • Issue Brief: Infants and Toddlers in the Child Welfare System in Rhode Island, February 2019 - The first 1,000 days of a child’s life are a time of great opportunity and great vulnerability. Experiences during the first three years are critical to healthy brain development and positive relationships with parents and caregivers and lay the foundation for social, emotional, cognitive, language, and physical development. Nationally and in Rhode Island, very young children are more likely to experience abuse and neglect than older children. In Rhode Island in 2018, nearly one in four victims of child abuse and neglect were infants and toddlers under age three (856 out of 3,505 victims).
  • Policy Brief: Focus on Integrated Early Care and Education Data, 2018
    Decades of research show that when children participate in high-quality programs designed to improve early learning and development, they do better in school and in life. In every state, there is a diverse array of programs designed to support the healthy development of young children. These include family home visiting, child care, Early Head Start/Head Start, State Pre-K, Early Intervention, and preschool special education. Programs vary in quality and intensity of services, training and qualifications of staff, and focus of services to improve individual child outcomes and/or family outcomes. This publication provides an overview of a demonstration project conducted by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT that sought to create an integrated data set from early care and education programs and to use this data set to better understand a population of children with high needs (young children who were maltreated in 2015) and their participation in high-quality early learning programs.
  • Issue Brief: Working Parents, Child Care, and Paid Family Leave in Rhode Island, June 2018 This Issue Brief includes data and research on low-income working families as well as provide a deeper analysis of three key policies – child care assistance, paid family leave, and earned sick leave – that promote family economic security and children’s development and school readiness. The Issue Brief also includes recommendations on how to improve these policies to best support low-income working parents and their young children in Rhode Island.
  • Issue Brief: Maternal Depression in Rhode Island: Two Generations at Risk, January 2018 - this report includes information on risk factors for maternal depression, effects of maternal depression on child development, and the importance of screening and treatment. The Issue Brief also includes recommendations on how to best support maternal mental health, healthy transitions into motherhood, and children’s healthy development.
  • Issue Brief: Investing in the Future: Financing Early Education & Care in Rhode Island, September 2016 - The first five years in a child’s life are crucial to their success in school. Children begin learning at birth and brain development proceeds rapidly in early childhood. Disparities in learning based on access to enriched experiences and environments begin to appear in the first years of life and, without intervention, grow over time. 

Additional Resources

Rhode Island

  • Child Care Assistance Program
    Children, age birth through 12, of low-income working parents are eligible for financial assistance to pay for child care. Families who qualify are issued a certificate that they can use to enroll their child at participating child care programs (centers and family child care homes). Families with incomes above the poverty level are charged co-payments.
  • Early Intervention
    Infants and toddlers (under age three) who have developmental delays or disabilities are eligible to participate in the statewide Early Intervention program. The program is open to families of all incomes. Services are offered at home or in community-based settings.
  • Family Home Visiting Program
    Family Home Visiting is provided to pregnant women and parents with kids up to age three. Family Visitors visit in the home, or anywhere else you like – and with all kinds of free family support services and resources.
  • Head Start & Early Head Start
    Early Head Start serves low-income infants and toddlers up to age three and their families. The program is available in some Rhode Island communities. There are not enough spaces to serve everyone who is eligible, so children and families are prioritized for enrollment based on risk factors. Head Start offers preschool to low-income children who are ages 3 and 4. The program is statewide and is free. There are not enough spaces to serve everyone who is eligible, so children and families are prioritized for enrollment based on risk factors.
  • Preschool Special Education
    Every school district in Rhode Island serves children ages 3 to 5 (up to kindergarten entry) who have developmental delays and disabilities. The program is open to families of all incomes. Some school districts also enroll typically developing children in the preschool special education classrooms. The program is free to children who have delays or disabilities. Some districts charge tuition for families of typically developing children. For more information contact your local school district and ask for the Early Childhood coordinator or Special Education director.
  • RI Pre-K Program
    The RI Pre-K program serves children in certain communities who are age 4 by September 1. The program is free and is open to families of all incomes. Children are selected by lottery during the summer before the program starts. 


  • The Alliance for Early Success is a catalyst for bringing state, national, and funding partners together to improve state policies for children, starting at birth and continuing through age eight.
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation National Data Center – Education Indicators
    Rhode Island KIDS COUNT contributes data to the national KIDS COUNT Data Center, which is managed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.The national KIDS COUNT Data Center connects you to over four million data points about the well-being of children and families in each state and across the country. You can easily access hundreds of indicators related to health, education, employment and income, child welfare, and many other topics. The Data Center is free and available to all.
  • The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading  - The Campaign is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career, and active citizenship. The Campaign focuses on an important predictor of school success and high school graduation—grade-level reading by the end of third grade.
  • The Center for Law and Social Policy develops and advocates for federal, state and local policies to strengthen families and create pathways to education and work.
  • Child Care Aware is the nation's most respected hub of information for parents and child care providers. A program of Child Care Aware of America, Child Care Aware helps families learn more about the elements of quality child care and how to locate programs in their communities.
  • The First Five Years Fund works with policymakers, experts, business leaders and advocates to advance federal investment in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children from birth to age five.
  • The National Institute for Early Education Research conducts and communicates research to support high-quality, effective early childhood education for all young children. Such education enhances their physical, cognitive, and social development, and subsequent success in school and later life.
  • The National Women's Law Center has worked for more than 40 years to expand, protect, and promote opportunity and advancement for women and girls at every stage of their lives — from education to employment to retirement security to health care and everything in between. The Center's research, analysis, and advocacy take place when legislatures are enacting or amending laws, the executive branch and its agencies are writing regulations or otherwise enforcing laws and policies, and the courts are reviewing actions. The Center also conducts campaigns and public awareness efforts to educate and mobilize the public to press for policy changes to improve women's lives. 
  • ZERO TO THREE is a national, nonprofit organization that provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture early development.

Improving Paid Family Leave in Rhode Island


Child Care Is Essential: Funding Affordable, Reliable, Quality Child Care In RI

Continuous Medicaid Eligibility: Stabilizing Health Care Access for Children Birth to 5

Rhode Island KIDS COUNT works to improve the health, safety, education, economic security, and development of Rhode Island’s children.


Rhode Island KIDS COUNT
One Union Station
Providence, RI 02903


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