According to Executive Order 08-14, "pursuant to the federal Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Public Law 110-134, the Governor is authorized to establish a state advisory council on early childhood education and care." In 2008, the legislature made reference to a "State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care" in Laws of Minnesota 2008, chap. 363 and added legislators to the membership of th council, but "did not expressly create the advisory council or define the appointment or administrative parameters for the advisory council." The council was therefore formally established by Gov. Tim Pawlenty through Executive Order in September 2008.
Laws of Minn. 2010, chap. 346, art. 1, sec. 5 directs the council to establish a task force to develop recommendations on how to coordinate or colocate early childhood and child care programs in one state Office of Early Learning.
On March 17, 2011, Gov. Mark Dayton signed Executive Order 11-05 creating the Early Learning Council. His press release said he has re-authorized a statewide panel formed three years ago to work on early childhood education issues, renaming the group the "Early Learning Council." Its primary goal is to ensure that all children are ready to begin kindergarten by 2020.