Last week, the cities of Fort Worth and Austin co-hosted a summit on early learning. This summit was the culmination of the National League of Cities’ Education Alignment for Young Children initiative. Austin and Fort Worth are among six cities nationwide that received this technical assistance grant to help with educational alignment for young children. The summit focused specifically on Texas, and dozens of early education experts spent the day learning about efforts in six communities- Austin, Forth Worth, Dallas, El Paso, Houston and San Antonio.
“It was a very interesting and informative day that allowed us to reflect on our community’s efforts, share successes and lessons learned, and gain insight in how other communities are tackling the same challenges and issues.”
–Dr. Alison Bentley, Success By 6 Coordinator
Austin’s representatives included UWATX president, Debbie Bresette; SB6 coordinator, Dr. Alison Bentley; Travis County planner, Tara Carmean; E3’s Director of School Readiness, Laura Koenig; and Dr. Rosamaria Murillo and Cynthia Gamez from the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. Members from each city were able to share their work, exchange ideas and become part of a peer learning network on early childhood educational alignment. Groups were asked to present about best practices in their community including what has worked well in the past and what challenges they encountered.
Dr. Bentley, in collaboration with Tara Carmean, presented on the School Readiness Action Plan of Austin/Travis County (SRAP)–-our community plan to ensure that school readiness becomes and remains a top priority. Specifically, their presentation focused on the government structure, successes and challenges of the SRAP, as well as the development of the next version of our School Readiness Action Plan. One of the main successes highlighted is that the plan has given the early childhood community a unified vision and message with common goals and strategies, which have led to new collaborative efforts and increased funding for early childhood from both the City of Austin and Travis County.
After presentations by the cities, attendees participated in smaller theme-based breakout groups focusing on governance, quality of early care and education, family engagement and data systems. These group discussions allowed them to ask questions and share ideas and solutions. According to Dr. Bentley, “It was a very interesting and informative day that allowed us to reflect on our community’s efforts, share successes and lessons learned, and gain insight in how other communities are tackling the same challenges and issues.”