About the Council
The Texas Early Learning Council serves as Texas’ State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care as required by the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor of Texas. Representatives of specific state agencies and stakeholder groups are required to be present on the Council. The Governor has the flexibility to appoint additional representatives.
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 Texas Early Learning Council was stablished 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:
- Parental Outreach and Communications
- Early Childhood Workforce and Professional Development
- Collaborations and Standards
- Data Systems and Quality Rating and Improvement Systems
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).
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.
In 2019, Governor Greg Abbott appointed all new members to Council. The Council is now comprised of 20 representatives and is chaired by Jacquie Porter, Statewide Director for Early Childhood at the Texas Education. Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott serves as the honorary chair. Stephanie Rubin was elected Vice Chair by the Council at their February 2019 meeting.