Rhode Island Early Learning Council

The Rhode Island Early Learning Council will facilitate the development or enhancement of high-quality systems of early childhood education and care, from birth to age 8, with the goal of improving school readiness and success in school. The Council will develop a state plan that will seek to align resources to support high quality early care and education services and to improve coordination and collaboration among multiple agencies, organizations and programs.

Rhode Island’s Early Learning Council was formed in June 2010 according to the guidelines for State Early Care and Education Advisory Councils outlined in the federal 2007 Head Start Reauthorization Act. The Council was appointed by the Governor and is co-chaired by Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT and Deborah Gist, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The work of the Council will build on the early care and education recommendations of the Successful Start Early Childhood System Plan, developed through a strategic planning process coordinated by the Rhode Island Department of Health. The Successful Start strategic plan describes systems-building goals, objectives and implementation strategies that will improve and coordinate services, resulting in improved child and family outcomes.

Upcoming Council meetings:

According to the Rhode Island Early Learning Council's Strategic Report submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in August 2010, the focus areas for the Council’s work over the next three years include the following:

ACCESS: Expand access to ensure that more children (particularly from low-income and vulnerable families) participate in high-quality early learning programs, including high-quality child care (including center-based and family child care homes), Head Start, Early Head Start, Pre-K and Full-Day Kindergarten.

PROGRAM QUALITY: Support program quality improvement across all early learning programs and settings.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Develop an adequately-funded, evidence-based system of professional development to prepare an effective and well-qualified workforce of early educators with appropriate levels of training, education, and credentials that build core knowledge and competencies.

HIGHER EDUCATION: Expand access to higher education and ensure institutions have the capacity to effectively support the development of early childhood educators and K-3 educators.

EARLY LEARNING STANDARDS: Participate in national planning and development of common core Early Learning Standards to include comprehensive learning guidelines across all domains of child development (physical, cognitive, social-emotional, language and literacy, and approaches to learning) for children birth to age three and children ages three and four.

ALIGNMENT OF STANDARDS: Ensure alignment of program quality standards and monitoring practices applied across all programs and settings, including local Rhode Island systems of child care licensing, BrightStars Quality Rating and Improvement System, and Department of Education preschool approval and the national quality systems of accreditation (NAEYC and NAFCC), and Head Start.

CHILDREN’S LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT: Enhance and expand methods and systems to monitor children’s learning and development across all domains of child development (physical, cognitive, approaches to learning, language and literacy, and social-emotional), from birth through third grade.

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