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Legal framework

The legal framework contains a description of the legal basis (laws, rules, and regulations) for the ECCE system and, often, delineates rights, protections, and entitlements of citizens in regard to ECCE services. The legal framework mirrors, yet enables, all other frameworks described herein and provides the legal justification necessary for the operation of the ECCE system. This likely necessitates changes to a country’s existing system of laws and regulations and it may also require changes to how lawmakers divide up and originate their work within legislative bodies. Historical situations, special populations, national and regional priorities and values, and cultural traditions will require review and consideration.
The legal framework must recognize that law is a layered phenomenon that includes international, national (constitutional and other), regional, and local/municipal jurisdictions. Particular laws may lie within a single ECCE service sector, may transcend ECCE sectors, or may lie outside of the ECCE sectors entirely. Law enables governmental authority and restricts and regulates its use. It sets rewards and sanctions and may frame bureaucratic rulemaking and policy development authority. In short, MSs will need to take a wide angle view when examining relevant law.
As in the case with the other frameworks, to construct the legal framework, a review and inventory of existing laws will be necessary as well as the construction of a broad outline of legislative actions to bring the designed ECCE system into fruition. Also like other frameworks this will necessitate reviewing the laws, regulations, and rules in obvious sectoral areas—health, nutrition, education, child protection, social protection, family services, and childcare services—but also in other areas, such as those outlined in the policy framework. The policy and legal frameworks will thus need to be developed iteratively.
In seeking to bring the MS into alignment with international consensus, a legal framework may draw from international law, conventions, treaties, and agreements of cooperation with international organizations. There are many such agreements that can be used as a basis and justification for MSs’ constructed ECCE laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990), the Moscow Framework for Action and Cooperation (2010), the Sustainable Development Goals (2015), the Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action [Education 2030] (2016) to name but a few. Beware some of these agreements are conventions and resolutions of joint purpose and do not themselves have the power of international law. However, they may have moral authority, whether legally binding or not, and can be used as models or sources of inspiration.
In member states with decentralized, shared or regional governance systems, laws and regulations must be consistent across these levels which may require honoring autonomy and differences across these levels. This may be viewed as a challenge or as an opportunity to combine different perspectives and approaches. And, notwithstanding its tradition toward centralization or decentralization, the legal apparatus can ill-afford inconsistency around the rights of young children. Finally, it should be noted that the legal framework is created to guide legislative bodies in revising existing laws or passing new ones. As a framework, its purpose is to outline and guide the necessary course of legal work.




What are all the relevant laws, rules, and regulations (national and regional) that affect ECCE? What sectors do they affect? Do they affect service planning, access, financing, and/or delivery? Do they affect children and families or organizations or other entities? Which subgroups within those categories are addressed or ignored?
To what degree do national laws explicitly afford legal rights and legal protections to children? Is ECCE specifically called out as a legal right of children and families?


In what ways are the existing laws facilitating or impeding the provision of quality ECCE to all children? Where are the gaps in law?
Where are legal protections for children insufficient and where and how must they be strengthened? Do certain groups require (additional) special protection in the law?
Where are laws in conflict with each other and need to be changed?
Where are laws (in areas not directly relevant to ECCE) creating negative, unintended consequences for ECCE service provision and access and for the construction of an integrated system?
Where and in what ways have existing laws failed or failed to be enforced? What lessons can be learned for the construction of new laws and provisions for their enforcement?


Are there existing laws within country that can serve as models for the writing of new law?
Where are impediments and obstacles to change in law likely to be encountered?
How can international agreements be enacted into national law in a way that accords with country priorities and historical practices?

Plan and Design

What new laws, regulations, and rules must be passed or established and which existing laws must be revised or repealed?
What would a model national law or laws for ECCE contain? Construct a model law. What legal rights and protections will it ensure for all children? What specific groups of children and families may need special protections? What appeals processes may be needed? How will these protections be enforced in provision of law?
How are cultural traditions and historical precedents honored within any new or revised laws?
To what extent is the legal framework flexible to unanticipated needs and directions and adaptable to regional or other localized needs?
What accountability checks are needed in law? To what degree are monitoring and evaluation practices codified in law?
Is this framework consistent with the contents of the other frameworks (in particular, the policy framework)?
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