Early Childhood Education

The brain’s architecture is built during a child’s first 1000 days

Early Childhood Education lays the foundation for a child’s future. CHILDREN AT RISK works to ensure every child and family has access to high-quality early education programs.

Investment & Innovation

Exposure to high-quality early childhood education (ECE) is the foundation for future academic success, especially for children from low-income backgrounds. CHILDREN AT RISK’s report, Investment & Innovation: Improving the Quality of Early Childhood Education for Low-Income Children, examine’s how Texas utilized the 2018 Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) increase of $230 million—a 45% increase in funding— to increase access and incentivize quality. This report offers policy recommendations to help further the state’s goals and discusses innovative, evidence-based practices that are essential to improving the quality of child care for low-income children.

Texas Rising Star Four-Year Recommendations

Every four years, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) reviews and updates the Texas Rising Star (TRS) guidelines. CHILDREN AT RISK has developed a high-level overview of the TRS Workgroup’s recommendations to help the public prepare for TWC’s upcoming TRS Public Stakeholder Meetings (https://twc.texas.gov/partners/texas-rising-star-workgroup).

A few of the recommendations include developing statewide plans to move more child care providers into higher quality levels, limiting the impact of deficiencies, and allowing Early Head Start (EHS) and Head Start (HS) programs to automatically participate in TRS. In this one-page handout, we summarize each section of TWC’s Four-Year Review Recommendations and provide our guiding questions for sections we believe need further clarification.

Early Childhood Apprenticeship Programs

Texas child care teachers care for an estimated 1 million babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age children. Children birth through age three experience an incredible amount of brain growth which shapes their future learning, health, and behaviors. Child care teachers play a vital role in the brain-building that set children up to be school-ready.

In the recently released report, Early Childhood Apprenticeship Programs, CHILDREN AT RISK reviews how apprenticeship programs can create a pipeline of highly-qualified early childhood education teachers in Texas.

The report describes the challenges child care teachers face, how to use an apprenticeship program to solve issues in early childhood education, and recommendations for state and local action.

If you are interested in creating an early childhood apprenticeship program in Texas, please contact Ali Schoon at aschoon@childrenatrisk.org or (713) 869-7740.

Child Care Subsidy & Policy Resources

Issues impacting the child care industry in Texas are complex and while solutions exist, it is often difficult to understand how to get there. With input from stakeholders across Texas, Children at Risk created resources with specific strategies for state and local decision-makers to increase access to quality child care in Texas.

Local workforce boards, nonprofits, school districts, and others can use these resources as they make decisions related to child care programs.

Building Brains & Economies

Over a 6-month period across the US, 45% of parents miss work at least once due to child care disruptions, costing American businesses approximately $4.4 billion every year. Lack of affordable child care forces many families to reduce hours or drop out of the workforce, which results in an estimated $8.3 billion annually in lost wages.

Quality child care helps parents during a time when they are stressed and stretched for time and resources, and it provides them with important information on the education and development of their child. From birth through age 3, a child’s brain is forming connections that are literally building a foundation that will impact the child’s future learning, health, and behaviors. The foundation is heavily influenced by interactions with that child’s caregivers, such as parents or child care teachers. Without a strong foundation, children are less likely to succeed in school and later in the workforce.

On a nine-city tour, CHILDREN AT RISK  unveiled an executive summary of their upcoming report, Building Brains and Economies: Quality Child Care as an Engine for Economic Development in a 21st Century Texas, as well as a mapping tool to help local and state leaders improve access to quality early childhood education.

Shared Services Alliances and Research

Shared Services empower child care providers by helping them save time and money on day-to-day operations, so they can invest back into their businesses, provide quality care, and best serve their children and families. CHILDREN AT RISK is working to establish Shared Services Alliances in three regions across Texas – Amarillo, Central Texas, and San Antonio. These alliances will allow child care providers to partner with other providers and nonprofits in their area to leverage economies of scale and secure the best prices on goods and services.

To learn more about this exciting work and the power of Shared Services for Texas, check out the video at right, and read our full report

Child Care – An Essential Work Support for Women

In Travis County, critical indicators for the current and future workforce should sound the alarm for the local economy. Many workers are parents, but women with young children are less likely to participate in the workforce than their male counterparts. In partnership with the Austin Community Foundation, CHILDREN AT RISK  releases Child Care – An Essential Work Support for Women. A 2018 Analysis of Access to Child Care in Central Texas.

Access to affordable child care is a critical two-generation approach for families in Central Texas. Parents, particularly mothers who want or need to work, have a difficult time finding child care that meets their needs and their budgets. Children benefit from high quality early learning settings, preparing them for success in school and later in the workforce. This report provides an overview of Central Texas families, their access to child care, and recommendations for philanthropists and community stakeholders to overcome barriers to providing quality child care for all families.

Child Care Desert & Affordability Map

With support from the Kellogg Foundation, CHILDREN AT RISK presents the Texas Child Care Desert & Affordability Map— an interactive tool to explore the local availability and cost of child care across the state of Texas.

Does the supply of child care in your area meet the demand for services among children of working parents? How much of their income are families in your area paying for child care?

Child Care Desert & Affordability Map Webinar

Interested in learning more about how you can use CHILDREN AT RISK’s Texas Child Care Desert and Affordability Map to drive change in your community? This webinar from CHILDREN AT RISK and January Advisors details how data can be used to improve access to quality child care. Learn how community members and policymakers can leverage this important advocacy tool.

Child Care Provider Focus Group Analysis

CHILDREN AT RISK conducted focus groups with child care providers across Texas to learn more about the challenges they face in their daily operations. The findings are summarized in a research brief, and cover topics including Child Care Licensing, business stability, Shared Services, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). To see what child care providers had to say, check out the full report below.

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