10/29/12 - Center Hosts Conference on Early Childhood Education Assessment

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In conjunction with the public release of the first Texas early childhood education needs ssessment in 40 years, the Ray Marshall Center (RMC) hosted a one-day conference, entitled "Texas Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment: Findings, Policy Implications and Promising Service Models," on Monday, October 31, 2012, at the LBJ School of Public Affairs on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. The conference agenda is available here.

The conference featured findings and information from he Center's recently-completed research project, "A Statewide Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment for Texas." The 16-month-long  project, funded by the Texas Early Learning Council (TELC) at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHSC), consisted of a team of researchers including Deanna Schexnayder, assistant dean for finance and administration at the LBJ School and senior research scientist at RMC, who served as principal investigator; and Professor Steve Murdock of the Department of Sociology at Rice University in Houston and director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas, also based at Rice, who was co-principal investigator.

Dean Robert Hutchings of the LBJ School and John Gasko, director of state initiatives of the Children’s Learning Institute (CLI) at UTHSC and past chair of TELC, welcomed participants. In the first morning session, Ms. Schexnayder, Dr. Murdock and Michael Cline, associate director of the Hobby Center, discussed findings from the Texas needs assessment. Richard Brandon, retired director of the Human Services Policy Center at the University of Washington and co-principal investigator of the National Survey of Early Care and Education (ECE) then provided a progress report from that survey, which also measures  ECE supply and demand but is national in scope and uses a series of related surveys rather than existing data as the basis for its analysis.

At lunch, RMC Director Christopher King moderated a panel of three speakers who responded to the Texas findings from different points of view: Carlos Rivera, director of health and human services for the City of Austin (local government); Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business (the business community); and J. Lee Kreader, deputy director of the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University (national and low-income families). A general question and answer session from the audience followed.

The afternoon breakout sessions presented new ideas for delivering services to young Texas children and their families and for improving the overall quality of existing services. Two concurrent sessions followed lunch: one on the Texas Family Child Care Home Project, chaired by Susan Landry, director of CLI, with Dr. Brandon as discussant; and one considering perspectives from other states, a panel moderated by Ms. Schexnayder and including Dr. Kreader, Roberta Weber of Oregon State University and the Oregon Early Learning Council, and Reggie Bicha of the Colorado Department of Human Services.

The final afternoon sessions included a discussion on fostering two-generation strategies in the United States, chaired by Dr. King, and one on Texas home visiting programs, chaired by Associate Professor Cynthia Osborne of the LBJ School. Associate Professor Elizabeth Gershoff of the School of Human Ecology at the University of Texas at Austin served as discussant for both of these topics.

Additionally, Helen DuPlessis, senior advisor of the University of California at Los Angeles Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities chaired a session on using new research data to transform Texas communities, with Don Titcombe, manager of TELC as discussant.

Ms. Schexnayder's team of researchers are publishing several reports related to the project on the RMC web site on October 30, 2012.

Ray Marshall Center

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