Advocacy Action Center

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As we gear up for the kick off the 88th Texas legislative session in 2023, the CHILDREN AT RISK team has developed a robust agenda centering the whole child that will guide our advocacy efforts. Our agenda is outline below and will be updated throughout the session to reflect the latest movement.

Issue Area One Pagers

C@R Policy Priorities & Legislative Resources:

Invest in Quality Early Education and Public Education: Ensure All Children Are Ready for School, College, and Careers

Help Parents Get Back to Work with Affordable High Quality Child Care and Pre-K

  • Increasing Pre-K Partnerships between School Districts and Private Child Care
  • Provide Dual Eligibility for Children in State Child Care and Pre-Kindergarten Partnerships
  • Offering Property Tax Relief to Child Care Providers Participating in TWC’s Scholarship Program
  • Allowing flexibility and increase accountability by adding quality performance targets to Local Workforce Board deliverables

Support the Child Care Workforce to Support other Businesses

  • Enacting Recommendations of House Bill 619 (87th R) to Support the Child Care Workforce
  • Requiring two-year and four-year institutions of higher education to develop articulation agreements across institutions and across child development and education degree plans

Invest in Child Care Infrastructure in Texas

  • Creating bedrock funding to provide stable income to child care providers serving infants and toddlers, in child care deserts, or are working towards Texas Rising Star Levels 3 or 4. Setting Reimbursement rates at True Cost of Care vs Market Rate
  • Ensuring providers receive the highest reimbursement based on quality rate, not what they can charge families
Prioritize Opportunity & Chronically Absent Youth

Chronic Absenteeism

  • Define chronic absenteeism in the Texas Education Code as a student who misses 10% or more of school days within an academic year for any reason (ESSA definition). This will allow monitoring and meaningful evaluation of interventions and open the door to providing districts with funds to intervene.
  • Add chronic absenteeism to the “at risk” category as a duplicated count. Define students who are chronically absent as “at risk” in the Texas Education Code as a student who is at risk of dropping out. This will ensure there is an allocation made to schools specifically on behalf of this population to support interventions on the behalf of these students.
  • Ensure reporting. Require that TEA report chronic absenteeism as an indicator.

Opportunity Youth 

  • Require every LWB to provide an OYYA section in their strategic plan. By requiring every LWB to have a detailed plan for OYYA outlined in their strategic plans, opportunity youth can be better served, allowing them to get the education that they deserve, and join the workforce.
  • Strategic plans should be posted on LWB websites and sent to local officials.
  • Ensure Reporting. LWBs should be required to give monthly or quarterly financial reporting updates on their activities and expenditures, outlining how said actions tie back to their strategic plan, and these reports should be posted on their website to further ensure transparent and responsible spending.
Promote Policies that Increase Equity and Eliminate Systemic Racism in Texas

Racial Disparities and State Government

  • Require the Sunset Advisory Commission to assess state agency efforts to reduce racial disparities as a part of the regular review process

Crown Act

  • Prevent discrimination against natural and protective hairstyles in academic settings throughout the state of Texas.

Re-establish the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement

  • Renew funding and re-establish the Office of Minority Health Statistics and Engagement
Protect Human Trafficking Survivors and Increase Penalties for Traffickers

Protection

  • Empower and incentivize local district and county attorneys to bring actions against alleged illicit massage businesses.
  • Allow outcry in all human trafficking prosecutions involving children.
  • Flag Drivers’ Licenses for Human Trafficking.
  • Add protections for victims of trafficking with significant disabilities.
  • Mandate registration of all “white label” ATMs.
  • Require Transportation Network Companies to train their drivers on human trafficking.
  • Universal human trafficking screening for age-eligible children in foster care.

Increased Penalties

  • Increase penalties for traffickers that use excessive force.
  • Enhance child pornography sentences when multiple images are possessed or promoted.
  • Require those convicted of Continuous Trafficking to serve aggravated time.
Invest in Programs and Strategies that Improve Children’s Physical, Mental and Social Development

Maternal and Child Health

  • Protect current requirements for immunizations, including requirements for public school entry.
  • Improve maternal health in Texas, including expanding 12-month postpartum Medicaid health coverage.
  • Increase funding for evidence-based primary prevention, including home visitation programs and Early Childhood Intervention.

Mental Health

  • Increase access to school-based behavioral services so more districts can participate, and more students can receive services.
  • Set minimum required mental health counselor to student ratios in public schools.
  • Provide long-term funding and career pathways for schools to hire more mental health professionals and establish school-based health centers.

Access to Food:

  • Allow internships and college credit hours to count towards SNAP eligibility for college students.

Safety:

  • Allow child care and out-of-school time organizations to be eligible for school-safety money and resources.

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