About the Council
The Texas Early Learning Council is an advisory council established by Governor Rick Perry in late 2009. In 2010, the Council was awarded a three-year grant from the federal government to achieve a series of goals towards improving school readiness in Texas through targeted strategies stemming from the Council's four priority areas:
Over the course of three years, the Council spent $11.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to improve key aspects of early care and education in Texas. Impetus and rules for the Texas Early Learning Council and other similar entities throughout the country were both created in the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, which required the Governor of each State to designate or establish a council to serve as the State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care (referred to simply as State Advisory Councils).
As the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act states, State Advisory Councils must:
- conduct a periodic statewide needs assessment concerning the quality and availability of early childhood education and development programs and services for children from birth to school entry, including an assessment of the availability of high-quality pre-kindergarten services for low-income children in the State;
- identify opportunities for, and barriers to, collaboration and coordination among Federally-funded and State-funded child development, child care, and early childhood education programs and services, including collaboration and coordination among State agencies responsible for administering such programs;
- develop recommendations for increasing the overall participation of children in existing Federal, State, and local child care and early childhood education programs, including outreach to underrepresented and special populations;
- develop recommendations regarding the establishment of a unified data collection system for public early childhood education and development programs and services throughout the State;
- develop recommendations regarding statewide professional development and career advancement plans for early childhood educators in the State;
- assess the capacity and effectiveness of 2- and 4-year public and private institutions of higher education in the State toward supporting the development of early childhood educators, including the extent to which such institutions have in place articulation agreements, professional development and career advancement plans, and practice or internships for students to spend time in a Head Start or prekindergarten program; and
- make recommendations for improvements in State early learning standards and undertake efforts to develop high-quality comprehensive early learning standards, as appropriate.
The Council met four times throughout 2010 in order to develop a comprehensive federal grant application built around the mandatory components listed above. In October 2010, the federal government approved Texas' ambitious application for Council funds. The Texas Early Learning Council secured $11.4 million in ARRA funds to spend on the Council priorities, far exceeding the minimum $500,000 guaranteed to eligible states.
The Texas Early Learning Council's approach
The Texas Early Learning Council had an ambitious plan that exceeded the expectations of the Head Start for School Readiness Act. The Council's workload for the next three years is high; therefore, four subcommittees were formed around the Council's main priority areas in order to complete the critical work of the Council. Council subcommittees drove the implementation of Council objectives. On specific tasks and goals, Subcommittees partnered with key stakeholder groups, national experts, and consultants to ensure high-quality and relevant products were created.
Components of the Texas Early Learning Council's Plan:
Through Council, staff, and contractor efforts, the Texas Early Learning Council made key strategic improvements to the Texas early care and education multi-sector system. The Council posted over 20 Requests for Proposals (RFP) in order to accomplish a significant portion of the goals listed below.