This post highlights a policy recommendation from our new report, The Quest for Equity and Quality Examining Provider Experiences and Participation in Texas Rising Star. This report, released 4/4/22, explores data from a statewide survey and focus groups in which providers were asked about their experiences with Texas Rising Star.
Throughout the focus groups we conducted for our report, The Quest for Equity and Quality, many providers stated that one of the reasons they were apprehensive about joining TRS was the paperwork. The current TRS providers shared, however, with proper supports, trainings, and resources the paperwork was achievable. Each LWDB has their own onboarding, mentoring, and quality initiative process; therefore, inconsistencies exist throughout the state.
Providers are somewhat unclear as to what the full TRS process (enrollment, application, observation, etc.) entails. Since LWDB supports, resources, and trainings look different statewide, ensuring that providers across regions receive the same level of support and clarity regarding the process and paperwork raises equity issues. For example, one LWDB mentor can do unlimited visits with providers while another LWDB is limited to four site visits to prep them for assessment.
While many providers expressed the numerous benefits their mentors provided during their TRS participation, the discrepancies across the state remain prevalent. Each LWDB experiences different caseloads with their mentors and some regions also experience high turnover with their mentors. The variations at the LWDB level end up being felt by the providers due to the fact there is often limited continuity of support. One provider stated that she has had three different mentors in the span of two years. Another provider shared that they had never had a face-to-face meeting with their mentor. The lack of mentors to help explain the certification process also resulted in provider hesitation with moving forward on the TRS application process.
With the new legislation, HB 2607, requiring all providers who participate in the subsidy program to participate in TRS, providers expressed concern for how the limited supports will be addressed. Each LWDB needs to ensure access to mentors and the quality of coaching is consistent across the state for providers. If our goal is to ensure high-quality care in every program, we must equip providers with the same resources and supports statewide to help them achieve a path to quality.
The CHILDREN AT RISK Early Childhood Education team will be discussing this report in depth throughout their virtual Texas Tour events in April 2022. They will also review strategies going into the 88th legislative session and present new Child Care Desert maps.