ABOVE: Texas Prenatal to Three Collaborative members testify in support of several child care-related bills. Pictured from left to right: Sandy Dochen, Tom Hendrick, Chuck Cohn, Brooke Freeland, Marnie Glaser, Sarah Baray, Lyn Lucas, Kim Kofron, Melanie Rubin, and Mandi Kimball.

In a historic public hearing held March 24th by the Texas House International Relations and Economic Development Committee, early education experts, business leaders, and Texas Prenatal to Three collaborative members testified in support of several child-care-related bills. The hearing, dedicated to early childhood education issues, included key legislation that would enhance Texas’ ability to increase the quality of early education; ensure accountability for how state dollars are spent on child care, and provide support to enhance the child care workforce.

Watch a recording of the hearing below. Or keep reading to view Children at Risk’s written testimony, bill analysis, and oral testimony.

HB 619 (S. Thompson | Lopez | Button | Talarico)

Support & Improve the Early Childhood Education Workforce

HB 619 (Thompson et al.) requires the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to develop a statewide plan with goals for helping early childhood educators achieve credentials and degrees, earn living wages, and utilize the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS). If Texas hopes to sustain a high-quality early education workforce, it needs a statewide plan with strategic goals. 

BELOW: Executive Director of the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, Kim Kofron, testifies in support of HB 619 (Thompson et al.)

HB 1364 (ROMERO, JR. | MINJAREZ | Guillen)

Provide Local Flexibility for Child Care Contract Agreements

HB 1364 encourages local flexibility for use of contract agreements between Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDB) and child care subsidy providers participating in the Texas Rising Star (TRS) system. Under this bill, child care providers may identify and recommend to the LWDB, children who may be eligible to fill an available slot at their center.

HB 1964 (Lopez)

Understand the Real Cost to Provide High-Quality Child Care

HB 1964 (Lopez) would require the Texas Workforce Commission to conduct a true cost-of-quality study. Several factors go into determining how much it actually costs child care providers to offer high-quality care to children, from adequate wages for early educators to sustainable funds for supplies curriculum and business operations. A clear picture of the cost will help adequately and efficiently invest
public funds in high-quality child care.

HB 1695 (Raney)

Raise Reimbursement Rates to Equip Providers to Offer Quality Care

HB 1695 (Raney) would adjust the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) reimbursement rate structure for age-groups to align with the child-to-caregiver ratios set by the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Currently, providers struggle to take advantage of TWC’s subsidized child care program because reimbursement rates are too low and based on calculations that do not align with the often-stricter required child-to-caregiver ratios set by the Health and Human Services Commission. 

HB 2607 (Talarico | Button)

Ensure Publicly Funded Child Care Programs are High-Quality

HB 2607 (Talarico I Button) expands the state’s Texas Rising Star program, requires the Texas Education Agency to report on Pre-Kindergarten Partnership agreements, and allows local flexibility for contracted slots. To ensure that low-income children in publicly funded programs are getting the quality supports that benefit them, requiring subsidy providers to become Texas Rising Star certified will create transparency and accountability of government dollars, while simultaneously prioritizing quality.

BELOW: Children at Risk Vice President/Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs testifying in support of House Bill 2607 (Talarico I Button).

To view more of our legislative resources or learn more about Children at Risk’s advocacy efforts visit our Advocacy Action Center