Early Childhood Education


of children in low-income communities are ready for school.


of children in our SB6 programs are ready for school.


Return on every dollar invested in early childhood education.


Average annual price of high quality childcare in Austin, according to a Texas Workforce Board survey.

Getting young children ready for school and beyond

90% of a child’s brain develops before they are six years old. Our early childhood education initiatives, known collectively as the “Success By 6” program, work to ensure that Austin’s youngest residents start out life on an even playing field.

We work with education organizations and community stakeholders to create opportunities for low-income toddlers and young children to receive high-quality education before they even enter kindergarten. We also provide opportunities for their parents to receive the skills they need to better prepare their children for success in school and beyond.

PTL Conference _ Lawrence Peart 08

Success By 6 works to make sure every child is ready for kindergarten by improving childcare services, providing parent education classes, obtaining public and private funding, and making high-quality early childhood education for all local kids a legislative priority.

The success of our children and future of our community depend on a strong system of supports during the earliest years of a child’s life. Having this support system increases the chance that a child will succeed in school and graduate, and decreases the chance that a child will have social and academic issues later in life.

Download this one-page summary of the Success By 6 program to learn more.

Play To Learn

High-quality childcare in Austin averages $9,734 a year. To support children who are not enrolled in childcare, UWATX launched Play To Learn in 2012 to coach parents on fostering school readiness at home. Parents and their children attend classes at accessible neighborhood locations, such as libraries, and learn together from a qualified early learning coach.

Families enrolled in Play To Learn receive Samsung Galaxy tablets pre-loaded with age-appropriate and educational apps for children, as well as bookmarked websites and parenting videos to supplement classroom instruction. UWATX will serve approximately 300 families in 2015, and many more will benefit from the valuable research findings the program provides.

UWATX partners with KLRU-TV and the City of Austin, public libraries and a variety of other partners to provide evaluations, locations, services and volunteer support. Implementing partners include Camp Fire Central Texas, YMCA and BookSpring. Play To Learn is truly a community project.

Quality Centers

Since 2005, UWATX has worked with local childcare centers and other service providers to increase the quality of childcare with large low-income populations. Success By 6 incorporates a variety of strategies to address this need:

  • Parent education: Helping parents get the skills they need to best support their child’s development
  • Social emotional learning: Funding licensed professionals to provide on-site mentoring and counseling for children, teachers and other educators
  • High-quality resources: Leveraging in-kind support to provide resources, technology support and more
  • Teacher development: Support for continuing education and professional development
  • Director mentoring: Funding a mentorship program for directors to grow their leadership skills
  • Data analysis and coordination: Collecting data through regular classroom observations and children’s assessments to determine needs and coordinate efforts

We currently work with 13 centers serving 700 to 1,000 low-income children all over Austin. Thanks to this work, the percent of centers serving low-income communities who meet state or national standards has increased by nearly 50 percent.

Learn more in the Center Project one-pager.

School Readiness Action Plan

For the past seven years, United Way for Greater Austin has led a coalition of early childhood advocates, experts, parents, service providers and business leaders to put together an ambitious School Readiness Action Plan (SRAP), aimed at changing the landscape of care for our youngest community members. This plan is a strategic effort to invest in the future of our community, with the goal of increasing the number of school-ready children to 70 percent by 2018.

We recently completed phase one of the plan from 2012 through 2015, and are using the data collected during this time to refocus our work for the upcoming three years.

It is our hope that this plan will inspire and guide community leaders, advocates, parents, service providers and educators to participate in a movement that will make Travis County the best place to prosper and raise a family for decades to come.

View the full 2015-2018 Action Plan, the full 2012-2015 Action Plan, the one-year updatetwo-year update or three-year update.

Ready to change lives?

Every day in Austin, we’re working to ensure each child has access to high-quality education, every family has the tools they need to be financially stable, and health and human services are readily available for all.

Sign up for News