This chapter looks at the wider systems in which early years programmes are placed. These are structural factors related to the nature, scope and capacity of early years programmes and process factors which determine how early years programmes are experienced by those involved in the community. The authors focus upon key challenges and options which face system leaders who are in the process of developing and enhancing their early childhood policy and pedagogical practice and offer a discussion of how early childhood education policy in eight study countries is related to the development of high quality, accessible services which can address social inequality, enhance participation and close the gap in educational achievement on entry to compulsory schooling. The study reveals that each country faces its own particular challenges toward achieving an equitable, high quality ECE system.