Press Release - Texas Early Learning Council Awards Grants to Four Communities to Improve Local School Readiness in Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

HOUSTON - 13 September 2011

The Texas Early Learning Council is pleased to announce the award of grants to four Texas communities for the Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness.  The Texas Early Learning Council awarded grants to organizations in Brownsville, El Paso, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls to assess and improve school readiness at the local level.  The organizing agencies, United Way of Southern Cameron County, United Way of El Paso, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, and North Texas Area United Way, each received an $110,000, two-year grant.

The Texas Early Learning Council is funding each of the four Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness (TCCSR) organizations to implement the Early Development Instrument (EDI) in local school districts to assess the school readiness needs of the child population, and to implement a strategic change process for each community's local early childhood system.

The TCCSR is a major initiative of the Council.  Each of the four TCCSR communities will work with local early childhood stakeholders and school districts to assess the community's school readiness needs and plan community responses to improve school readiness for children at the local level.  United Way of Southern Cameron County, United Way of El Paso, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, and North Texas Area United Way will each partner with the UCLA Center for Children, Families, and Communities (CHCFC) and United Way Worldwide to collect and use the EDI data from their communities, and receive technical assistance.

The required components of the TCCSR are: to partner with CHCFC for technical assistance and to collect and use EDI data; to partner with local school districts to deliver the EDI assessment; to publish their EDI findings in GIS maps on a community-accessible website; and, to organize a community response to the EDI findings.  The community response will include the designation of a local stakeholder group to plan and guide the community response, as well as a strategic plan to respond to the needs identified in the EDI, and a stakeholder sustainability plan for the future.

The EDI is a comprehensive, community-level assessment tool of the early development and school readiness of children.  School districts that partner with the TCCSR lead agencies will deliver the assessment in kindergarten classrooms, and this data will be analyzed by CHCFC.  The EDI enables communities to use the assessments of the current child population to look backward and evaluate the levels of services available to support child development and school readiness at the local level.  The EDI allows for communities to develop early childhood systems that are responsive to the specific community's needs.

"The Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness is an opportunity for Texas communities to assess and plan for their early childhood needs," said John Gasko, Ph.D., Chair of the Texas Early Learning Council.  "It is our hope that the Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness will enable communities to create long-term, sustainable, responsive systems to better meet the needs of young children."

The Texas Early Learning Council is a 19-member, governor-appointed advisory council on early childhood education and care.  In 2010, the Council began an ambitious three-year federal grant to improve school readiness in Texas.  Over the next three years, the Texas Early Learning Council will embark on dozens of key strategic improvements to the Texas early care and education system. For more information, please visit www.earlylearningtexas.org.

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