Change management may be a strategic initiative that is planned from within—an internal change—or something imposed externally, such as changes in leadership, organizational structure, regulations, or a changing political or fiscal environment. Two examples follow: one focuses on the need for change management due to external factors and the other shows how change management may be needed due to internal decisions.

Example: Externally Driven Change

For the field of early childhood, change is afoot at the national level, which is commanding change at the state and local levels. The Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Office of Child Care, Office of Head Start, and Maternal Child Health Bureau have been collaborating and asking states, territories, and tribes to envision and implement a cross-sector approach to create a more seamless support system for children and families across the nation. Aligning with ACF’s vision, the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 was signed into law. Congress reauthorized the Child Care and Development Fund program for the first time since 1996, and it represents a historic reenvisioning of the purposes for the program. The new law, with its changed purpose, adds to a cultural shift within the early childhood field. It asks states to rethink child care in innovative ways—to change mindsets and stimulate new levels of action so that the law intentionally supports parents’ ability to work and offers care that promotes children’s development. As CCDF Administrators work to fully implement the new requirements of CCDF, their success depends on leading change with others.

Example: Internally Driven Change

States are moving beyond the traditional minimum licensing standards—a monitoring structure—to create and support the design and implementation of a quality-based approach. This approach blends standards with supports and processes for quality improvement that focus on child development and school readiness. To make this shift, states have been designing and developing quality rating and improvement systems that align minimum licensing standards; create new standards for quality; provide financial, technical, and professional resources; integrate outreach and communications; and include a rating and monitoring approach to support ongoing quality improvement. This internal shift that is occurring in so many states requires CCDF Administrators to reboot the culture in early childhood and lead change with many other partners and stakeholders.