We improve outcomes for children and their families through the development of innovations that drive early childhood program quality.

Research in the early childhood field demonstrates the critical role that program quality plays in the development of the cognitive skills, social abilities, and healthy behaviors that prepare children to succeed in school and life.

Theory of Change

Since 1985, the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership has focused on the role of early childhood leaders as the catalysts of program improvement and quality. 

Research shows enhanced leadership competencies and increased leadership capacity within organizations yield sustainable improvements in program quality, which will in turn improve outcomes for children and families served.

Long-Term Impact

  • Improve the quality of early childhood education and care for children and their families.
  • Increase the professionalization of the early childhood field.
  • Improve outcomes for young children and their families.


Individual Level – Leaders

  • Advance early childhood leaders’ professional qualifications and/or credentials
  • Improve leadership competency, skills, knowledge, and mindsets of early childhood leaders
  • Increase access to professional development, education, and credentials

State Level – Systems

  • Inform and improve quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS)
  • Inform and improve state professional development systems (PDS)

National Level – Field

  • Provide innovative direction to the field
  • Influence/inform policy change that supports early childhood leadership
  • Raise the visibility of the role and value of the leader as the gateway to quality


About Us

Mission: We empower leaders and advance the field to promote excellence in early childhood education.

Vision: We envision innovative and responsive early childhood systems with extraordinary leaders who inspire the best start for every child.

Values: Advancement, Equity, Excellence, Impact, Integrity

Download our Theory of Change as a pdf.