MissionThe Early Years Institute began as a research project called Early Care and Education-Long Island (ECELI) in April 2002, initiated by five funding organizations: the Hagedorn Foundation, Rauch Foundation, Long Island Community Foundation, Sandy River Charitable Foundation, and United Way of Long Island.
Our original goal was to assess Long Island’s capacity to support quality child care and identify the most feasible ways to expand its impact. After four years of coalition building, research and outreach, ECELI was incorporated in 2008 under the name The Early Years Institute.
As The Early Years Institute, the original mission of ECELI was changed because it was too narrow to improve the quality of care for all children. ECELI’s efforts had focused exclusively on children in formal, regulated child care settings. However, half of the children under the age of six are not in the formal, regulated market of child care; they are at home with parents, grandparents and neighbors. To improve the quality of early learning environments, it’s necessary to include all settings where young children spend time.
As the growing national movement of “family, friend and neighbor care” evolves, communities around the country have tried to reach families by going “where they pay, where they play and where they pray.” This includes stores, parks, libraries, museums, pediatricians' offices, schools, and places of worship. These sites can be sources of parenting information and potential learning sites for young children. They also define the stakeholders we seek to bring to the table, helping communities move from awareness… to understanding… to action!