Charting Texas' Early Childhood Future: An Open House at the Capitol

On December 5, 2012, the Texas Early Learning Council hosted an early childhood policy open house at the Texas Capitol in Austin. We shared our work with early childhood stakeholders and legislative staff. Attendees were invited to learn about our initiatives and discuss their sustainability before the start of the upcoming 83rd Texas Legislature.  The Council's grant will end in August 2013, and the sustainability of our initiatives is becoming increasingly important.

Visit our Facebook page to view pictures from the event.

The meeting began with an introduction from Dr. John Gasko, former Chair of the Council.  Beginning with a quick overview of the data from the statewide early childhood needs assessment. Then, LaShonda Brown, Chair of the Council, and Don Titcombe, Manager of the Council, discussed the importance of the Council's initiatives in light of our rapidly growing child population.

View the PowerPoint Presentation from the Plenary Session. [ Click here for the PDF version. ]

For our initiatives, sustainability relates to many types of resources, including funding, staff, and future expansion of the reach of the projects.  More importantly, sustainability relates to the long-term impact the Council's work can have on families, children, and other early childhood stakeholders.

Learn more about the projects that we discussed at the meeting and download information sheets in the tabs below.

Learn more about the sustainability of our initiatives

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)

The Council is currently developing the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS) for early childhood professionals in Texas.  Comprising the Texas Trainer Registry, a new workforce registry, and many professional development resources, TECPDS will be for early childhood professionals.

Sustainability Issues:

  • The Texas Head Start State Collaboration Office, consisting of only two staff members, handles the daily operations of the TECPDS.  Clearly, as the system expands, more staff and resources will be needed.
  • The online registry will need ongoing system and technical support.
  • The system would benefit from increased enrollment and participation incentives - for instance, SB 265 from the 82nd Legislature greatly increased the amount of registered trainers and those applying to be registered in Texas.
Learn more about TECPDS: TECPDS image

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines (ITELG)

The Council is currently developing new, voluntary Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines for Texas.  Marketed as "Little Texans. Big Futures.", these guidelines are based on responsive caregiving techniques and are designed to inform all types of caregivers about the importance of early childhood development, as well as how adults can support the healthy development of young children.  The guidelines will also be the basis of the Council's public outreach campaign, coming in 2013.

Sustainability Issues:

  • As part of the Council's outreach campaign, the Council will fund the development of a mobile app, commercials, and other efforts to engage parents and providers and direct them towards these new guidelines.
  • The Council will make all of the materials developed for this campaign available to stakeholders who wish to fund public awareness campaigns in their communities.
  • Media is very expensive - as part of a sustainability vision the Council recommends that the Legislature create a private/public fund in which foundations, corporations, and others could invest in ongoing public awareness efforts.
  • The Council will fund the development and distribution of the ITELG and supporting materials; however, resources will limit the reach of the materials.  Any state investment in printing and distribution will support parents and providers in receiving this critical information.
  • The Council will fund an online training module for the guidelines - this aspect of the project will need on-going administrative and technical support.

Learn more about the ITELG:

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Beginning Education: Early Childcare at Home (BEECH)

Beginning Education: Early Childcare at Home (BEECH) is an innovative research study on quality improvement in home-based child care.  Currently underway in both English and Spanish, study participants utilize an online professional development system that consists of 20 highly-interactive training sessions.  If the professional development system proves effective in improving quality among home-based providers, this system could be expanded statewide for all home-based providers as an online professional development tool.

Sustainability Issues:

  • BEECH is incredibly affordable for the state.
  • To run effectively, the system requires an administrator and a coordinator, as well as funds to solve technology issues as they arise.
  • For $500,000, BEECH could be made available to at least 1/2 of the home-based providers in the state over the next 2 years.
  • The cost per provider is about $85 each.
  • A Spanish version of the system has already been created, at no cost to the state.
  • Since BEECH is based off of a research-tested and proven parent training model, it has the potential to serve as an effective parenting intervention as well.

Learn more about BEECH:

BEECH image

Texas Early Childhood Data: QRIS and TOTS

The Council has two projects on early childhood data, The On-Track System (TOTS) and the Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS).  After an extensive study of the feasibility of an early childhood data exchange system, known as TOTS, the Council released recommendations to guide the design and build of an early childhood data system in Texas in the future.  The Council is currently developing a set of recommendations for the development of a statewide quality rating and improvement system for Texas.  Both of these projects highlight the importance of early childhood data for the Council's work and for our state in the future.

Sustainability Issues:

  • To move forward, TOTS and QRIS will require legislature action.
  • Both systems will require significant resources, including funding and staff.  Learn more about the financial cost of TOTS in the TOTS Recommendations.  (Information on the cost of the QRIS will be available in the QRIS Recommendations in 2013.)
Learn more about TOTS and QRIS:


Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness (TCCSR)

The Texas Community Campaign for School Readiness is a project that assists local communities with assessing their early childhood needs and providing opportunities to improve their local early childhood systems.  In 2011, the Council awarded grants to four communities in Texas: Brownsville, El Paso, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls.  In each community, the Early Development Instrument is implemented in kindergarten classrooms, assessing the school readiness of local children in five areas: social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognition, communications skills, and physical health and well-being.  EDI data is collected on individual students, but is aggregated at the community level to produce results on the community, not individual students.  After receiving their community-level data, the communities can then plan early childhood systems improvements based on the data.

Learn more about TCCSR:

TCCSR image

Texas Early Childhood Standards Comparison Tool

The Texas Early Childhood Standards Comparison Tool is an online, searchable database of early childhood program standards, categorized by broad topics and more specific sub-topics.  The comparison tool will allow users to compare state and federal program standards, as well as state and national accreditation standards.  Currently in development, the tool will be online and users will be able to easily search standards with keywords or through the search feature.  The comparison tool will be hosted on the Texas Head Start State Collaboration Office website.

Sustainability Issues:

  • Web maintenance of the online tool
  • Administration of the online tool
  • Updates to the data (program standards) in the future
Learn more about the comparison tool:

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