In 2016, with initial support from the Open Society Foundation, RNI collaborated with CEDP Step by Step Romania to help secure a group of business executives and establish a new initiative that has since become an independent operating entity, ReadyNation RO (ReadyNation Romania). Focused on early childhood education and care to promote Romania’s economic development and competitiveness through public-private sector engagement, ReadyNation RO has made significant strides elevating national dialogue on the topic and influencing the policy landscape. Its capstone conference, “The First 1000 Days of the Next 100 Years,” convenes private and public sector influencers as well as subject matter experts. There, Romanian Ministers of Finance and Education have reaffirmed the importance of early childhood to the country’s future growth and stability.
The network is also part of the country’s two major business organizations – RBL and AmCham – and has since organized a preschool teacher prize at the RBL annual gala and brought early childhood onto the national chamber’s agenda. On the policy front, ReadyNation RO members helped win major victories from compulsory preschool education and increased public funds for infants and toddlers to a chapter on early childhood as part of a new law on education as well as amendments to the tax code impacting early childhood through novel corporate tax credits. Most recently, ReadyNation RO and Step by Step Center experts have documented and supported efforts to incorporate early childhood education and care into the official National Defense Strategy (2020-2024). Carmen Lica, a network founding Board Member, was officially knighted by Romanian President in recognition of her work in the education field.