The paper has two main objectives. First, it presents an analytical framework for examining and developing policies for early childhood education and care (ECEC) in advanced industrialized countries. This framework highlights the link between the fundamental determinants of ECEC policy in terms of society’s view of childhood and their implications for the respective roles of the family and the state, on the one hand, and the relative importance accorded to education versus care, on the other. Second, the paper applies this analytical framework to the policy experience gathered from two rounds of the Thematic Review of ECEC Policy conducted by the OECD in 20 countries. Policy questions of what (types and quality of provision), for whom (access and participation trends), how (level of investment and governance mechanisms), and who pays are examined. The analysis is supplemented by data (mostly referring to 2005) drawn from the second round of the Review and published in Starting Strong II.