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Redesigning Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Client/Funder: Bainum Family Foundation
Location: Washington, D.C.
Catapult Service Line: DesignEducation


In partnership with the Bainum Family Foundation, Catapult Design applied a humancentered design (HCD) approach to redesigning the child care/early childhood education system (ECE) system in Washington, D.C. The process brought together a diverse group of educators, administrators and families to highlight the challenges of the current system and reimagine one that is equitable for all.


Using HCD to redesign the child care system started with surfacing the voices of the community and having those voices drive the process. It required having a shared definition of what makes up the community; in this case, it was educators, administrators and families. Leveraging the Double Diamond framework to structure our design process, we worked closely with participants to discover and define the system’s current reality, identify the most impactful moments and opportunities for change, and design solutions that systemically shift toward a more equitable future for ECE.


The Build Phase focused on co-creating “provocations” based on participant ideas identified during the Definition Phase and testing these ideas with the community for feedback to develop prototypes that address their unique needs. Key activities included:

  • Co-Creation Activities — Developing participant ideas and synthesizing them into tools that enabled participants to identify which would drive the biggest systemic changes in the vision for child care. We worked with four of the original participants and recruited two additional ones for this phase
  • Futuristic Provocations — Feedback given in co-creation activities and ideas from the focus groups was used to build futuristic provocations that pushed the boundaries of what it means to give participants a reimagined child care system
  • Conceptual Prototypes — Illustrating the transformative and tangible impact of the conceptual prototypes on the child care system through the storytelling of fictional scenarios, conceptual visuals and key aspects representing all the new elements that shape the prototype concept

The Impact Phase focused on sharing the impact of a new equitable vision through engagements with the broader child care community and exploring tangible steps to bring the vision to reality.