In 2012, UWATX unveiled the first phase of the School Readiness Action Plan (SRAP), an ambitious three-year plan to increase the percentage of children who enter Kindergarten school ready. This plan is made possible by a large community coalition made up of caring community leaders, advocates, parents, service providers and educators, all dedicated to improving life for Austin’s children.
The 2012-2015 Action Plan included strategies to leverage public funding, engage public officials and business leaders and target existing services more strategically. It also proposed increasing per capita spending on early childhood by 20 percent and targeting existing programs to focus on younger children.
The results we’ve seen from the first phase of this plan are clear and positive: it is creating real change in the lives of young children and families in Central Texas. Since the plan went into effect in 2012:
- The percentage of children who entered kindergarten “school ready” increased by 5 percent, from 49 percent to 54 percent last year.
- The number of vulnerable families receiving home visiting services in our county nearly tripled, improving health outcomes for the children and dramatically reducing the likelihood of child abuse in these homes.
- The City of Austin increased their Health and Human Services funding for early childhood by nearly $1 million over the three year period.
- The Austin Public Library more than doubled the number of bilingual storytimes in low-income communities as a response to community advocacy.
View all results from the 2012-2015 Action Plan.
This plan was recognized by United Way Worldwide as the winner of the 2015 United Way Common Good Award. United Way Common Good Awards recognize promising and effective practices from communities around the world that are applying a range of solutions to community challenges along the impact continuum.
However, our work is only beginning. Still, 46% of Travis County Kindergartners are not ready for school when they enter and many do not receive any type of support or services in their younger years. There are more than 26,000 children ages 0-4 in our community who are low-income; 20,641 of these children remain unserved.
What We Will Do In 2015-2018
We are excited to release phase two of the School Readiness Action Plan 2015-2018. We’ve developed new goals and strategies but continue to focus on families, early care and education services, health and mental health services, as well as the communities in which low-income families raise Austin’s youngest residents.
Some of our goals for the SRAP 2015-2018:
- By 2018, 70% of all children will enter Kindergarten school ready. In 2014, 54% of children entered Kindergarten school ready.
- By 2018, 60% of low-income children will enter school Kindergarten ready. In 2014, 42% of low-income children entered Kindergarten school ready.
- By 2018, we aim for 95% of Travis County school districts to provide full-day Pre-K. As of 2014, only 33% of Travis County school districts offer this.
- By 2018, we aim for the City and County spending on early childhood learning per low-income child to increase by at least 20%. In 2014, the City and County spent an average of $131 per low-income child in this arena.
View a summary of the School Readiness Action Plan 2015-2018, which includes our goals and strategies to meet these goals for the next three years or you can download the full 2015-2018 Action Plan.