Status Update on the State Advisory Councils

 It’s no secret that early childhood education is a national priority. The President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2014 proposes a robust agenda on early learning and development with substantial investments. Across the country, federal, state, local and private funds are supporting the development and expansion of high quality early childhood programs at unprecedented levels. People everywhere are beginning to understand that children who participate in high quality early learning experiences are better equipped to achieve in school and later on in the workforce than those children who do not. Business, labor, law enforcement, and the military agree—in order to remain worldwide leaders in an increasingly competitive world economy, we must invest in our youngest children.

In 2009, ACF provided $100 million dollars in grants to states and territories for the development of the State Advisory Councils. This one-time award was used to develop high quality, early childhood systems across the country.

Councils used these funds to develop high-quality systems of early childhood education and care to improve school preparedness. Councils conducted individual needs assessments and determined the quality and availability of early childhood programs to better direct resources to the neediest families. They have supported the professional development of early childhood educators, and have worked with institutes of higher education. Councils have supported the development of a unified early childhood data collection system; increased participation of high needs children in high quality early childhood programs; improved collaboration and coordination among State agencies responsible for administering early childhood programs; and advanced state early learning standards.

The Early Childhood State Advisory Councils Status Report provides a status update on the progress made by the State Advisory Councils. The report describes the purpose and background of the State Advisory Councils, including grant allocation amounts, match requirements, Council membership, and legislatively required activities. It highlights the Councils’ progress on the grant’s seven required activities as well as information on how Councils have advanced their early childhood systems beyond the requirements. Finally, the report includes an individual profile of each SAC grantee.

We expect that the progress made by the Councils will continue to yield dividends in the long term. In 2011, 37 states (and eligible territories) looked to their State Advisory Council plans and progress made to inform the development of their Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) applications. As we look ahead, we expect that Councils will continue to advise state systems and policymakers to meet the early care and education needs of young children nationwide.

Ngozi Onunaku, Senior Policy Analyst for Early Childhood Development

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families