From the Chair - August 31, 2011

The Council reached a few great milestones in the month of August.  First, we closed our search for communities to participate in the Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness.  We are happy to announce that we have awarded four deserving communities: Wichita Falls (United Way North Texas), El Paso (United Way of El Paso County), Brownsville (United Way of Southern Cameron County), and San Antonio (United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County).  This project is just beginning, but look for us to keep you informed of all the great work these four communities are doing and plan to do over the next two years.  Another giant step we took in August was the completion of our first draft of a strategic plan for the Texas On Track System (TOTS), an integrated early childhood data exchange system. Our consultants on the project have interviewed a tremendous numbers of stakeholders and agency leaders, as well as reviewed current practices from other states, and have completed an in-depth analysis of what it would take to make TOTS a reality in our state.  From my first reading of the draft plan, it is clear that TOTS will be a challenge.  The Council will consider the recommendations in the strategic plan and formulate a response.  We will keep you apprised of these efforts.  Another important milestone for the Council in August was that we began work on the actually building and designing a new online early childhood professional development system for our state.  This is an exciting and dynamic project that will support the continuous professional development of the early childhood workforce in Texas.  Look for a new Council Working Paper on this system coming in the next month, which will explain the Council's full vision of this project.

The Council has quite few steps to take in September, as well.  Our Data and QRIS Subcommittee will meet quite often during the month to consider both design specifications for TOTS and to identify goals and parameters for our recommendations for a Texas Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).  The entire Council will meet in Austin, Texas on September 29, 2011.  More details of that meeting will be coming soon.  Additionally, our Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines Stakeholder group will be hosting conference calls and stakeholder meetings. Finally, our staff will also be presenting in Austin and Arlington during the month.  The Council members, staff, and stakeholder groups are staying busy and engaged.  This is a lot of work, but committed individuals are making progress daily.

John W. Gasko, Ph.D.

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