The Texas Early Learning Council, housed at CLI from 2010-2013, published the Texas Early Childhood Needs Assessment in 2012, the first statewide needs assessment in more than 40 years.
A key priority of the Texas Early Learning Council was to update our state’s understanding of the school readiness needs of its young children. In order to make good decisions about early care and education policymakers, providers, and community leaders need to understand the challenges facing families with young children and how our various early care and education programs are equipped or unprepared to handle those challenges. The Council’s contractors, the Ray Marshall Center and the Hobby Center, approached this task through two strategies.
First, the needs assessment researchers studied the availability and quality early care and education in our state, compared to our quickly shifting demographics. Texas has the fastest growing early childhood population in the country. That growth contains dramatic shifts in population composition. For example, the number of English Language Learners will continue to grow at a rapid rate in the state, adding complexity to the challenges of improving school readiness in Texas. The researchers studied recent census data and other demographic resources to gain a precise understanding of what the state’s early childhood population looks like and what the needs of that population are.
Then, through thorough analysis of Texas’ early care and education programs, the researchers identified gaps in our system. Does Texas have the program capacity to ensure that ALL children are school ready when they enter Kindergarten? Do parents of children with disabilities have options in selecting high-quality programs for their children? Can rural families find sufficient care around them to meet their needs? These questions and more will be answered through this analysis. This information will give policymakers and stakeholders better insight in how best to target resources.
On October 29, 2012, the Texas Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment: Final Report was released in Austin at a one-day conference. The Ray Marshall Center and the Hobby Center, the two contractors on this project, presented data from the needs assessment and offered some policy recommendations. The final report includes key findings from the needs assessment, including from the demographic profile, population projection to 2040, analysis of early childhood programs and services in Texas, and gap analysis.