Letter from the Chair - February 28, 2013

Greetings!  I hope your February has been as exciting and rewarding as it has been for the Texas Early Learning Council.  We have had a fast paced month and many successes we want to share with you.  First, I would like to thank those of you that were able to attend our public meeting on February 22, 2013.  We covered a great deal of topics and received excellent and thoughtful public comments from many of the participants.  If there is one thing I took away from the meeting, it's that early childhood stakeholders in Texas are very interested in moving forward with a Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).  How we get there, however, is a question that not everyone answers the same way.  The Council worked on QRIS for 6 hours after the public portion of the meeting, and I was pleased and impressed with my fellow Council Members.  We made a great deal of headway on some critical questions that the state must answer on QRIS.  I believe the Council will be able to produce a useful set of recommendations for the state of Texas regarding QRIS.  These should be ready by mid Summer.

Other important items to note in February include completing our new online program standards comparison tool.  The tool is completely finished and functional and we are simply waiting for the University's security team to complete its review of the tool and post it online.  We will let you know as soon as it is active.  The Council also finalized and released the new Texas Early Childhood Career Lattice.  This voluntary tool is intended to help individuals, administrators, and organizations with professional planning.  Each can use the tool to evaluate progress in career development and set professional development goals.  The Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS) will also use the Lattice to help evaluate and chart the progress of professionals registered with the Texas Workforce Registry.  Speaking of the Texas Workforce Registry, the Council recently released an RFP for vendors to help us build and launch the new Texas Workforce Registry.  This dynamic system will bring together professionals of all kinds-trainers, teachers, administrators, and others - online where each can track their professional development progress, share resources with others, and market themselves.  The RFP contains at least 250 pages, spelling out every single technological detail of the new system, and we believe the effort that has gone into that stage of the work will pay off greatly as we begin to build the registry.  The Council is so grateful for the amazing and committed work on this project by  Katie Chennisi, TECPDS Coordinator, and Brian Herod, former Project Manager at Children's Learning Institute.  The system requirements document they have produced is one of the best of its kind!

In February, the Council also selected a vendor for our exciting and upcoming statewide public awareness campaign.  The vendor will design all kinds of awareness materials for the Council, including TV ads, radio ads, billboards, and web campaign materials to fuel an awareness campaign in the state.   The campaign seeks to communicate the importance of early childhood and key strategies families and others can put to use to ensure their young children are being effectively engaged in responsive ways that support optimal brain development.  The messages of the campaign, which will be refined with help of the vendor, are based on key aspects of the New Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines, and our outreach strategies are based on findings from our statewide needs assessment.  Remember, all materials created through the campaign will be available free to any community that wishes to run these ads locally, so local communities should start planning now.

And now the question that is on everyone's minds these days, "where are the Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines?"  Well, first let me apologize for the delays.  We just really want to get this important document 100% right before we release it.  The document is in its 16th revision, and mostly we are simply working on formatting and layout issues now.  We submitted a draft to our stakeholder committee last week and they returned the draft with minor important edits.  We are currently incorporating those edits.  After we are finished with those changes, we have to send the document to the graphic designer; she will make some very minor touch ups to some of the photographs in the document, and we should be ready to print.  The document will be available for download before printed versions will be available, however.  Don't forget, we are also in the process of translating the document into Spanish and building a mobile website for the guidelines.  If all things go according to plan, the guidelines should be ready before mid-March, while paper versions, translation, and web products related to the document will be available later in the Spring.  Thank you so much for your patience!


LaShonda Y. Brown

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