Where does policy-making happen?

Our system of government is divided into three levels: local, state and federal with three distinct branches at each level.

Each branch has a specific governing role:

  • Legislative – makes the laws
  • Executive – enforces the laws
  • Judicial – interprets the laws

And each level of government has specific constitutionally defined powers:

  • Federal – powers are limited by the US Constitution
  • State – powers are granted by the US Constitution and by the Alaska Constitution
  • Local – powers are limited to regulation and oversight of local matters

Funding and regulations regarding child care can and do come from all three levels of government to varying degrees. For example, while the federal government does not have direct oversight regarding state-level social and educational services, they do provide funding for these programs and often attaches specific policy requirements to that funding. States have the most direct control over the governance of early care and education systems, but pre-kindergarten programs that are part of the public education system are usually subject to governance by the local school board. The early care and learning system works best when all three levels of government are operating with similar values and a shared vision.