28,000 more Texas children per day will receive high-quality child care
AUSTIN – The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) today approved plans for the use of $229.9 million in federal child care block grant funding for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 with a clear focus on working to increase the quality of care and strengthen early learning across the state. It is the single largest federal allocation increase in the history of the Texas Child Care Development Fund program. TWC, through its network of 28 local workforce development boards, will use the funding to expand high-quality early childhood education and child care service programs to an estimated 28,000 additional Texas children per day in FY 2019. Texas is allocating $189 million, including funds for rate increases with a clear focus on Texas Rising Star (TRS) quality care, to support Direct Child Care Services, and designating an additional $40 million dollars to help providers enhance the quality of care they offer and to support partnerships that build school readiness.
“This historic increase in child care funding will allow more Texas families to receive high-quality child care, and allow parents to focus on acquiring occupational skills, gain stable employment or advance in a career,” said Gov. Abbott. “Additionally, this money will be devoted to increasing the quality of our child care system to improve student academic outcomes across the state.”
“We are committed to building a Texas Early Learning Partnership that strengthens existing alliances and builds new ones to expand high-quality TRS learning environments for children and enhance overall school readiness,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Through these funds, we will grow our high-quality Pre-K partnership efforts with TRS providers, make available collaborative matching grants to advance local TRS related early learning strategies, and strengthen the position of our 28 local workforce development boards around the state to advance high-quality care activities.”
TWC’s child care services program supports quality child care services and provides subsidized child care assistance for low-income families. Local workforce boards administer the program, offering education, guidance, and support to participating families in selecting quality care for their children from a number of local providers who meet the TRS qualifications. This funding will allow more parents to receive subsidized child care, reducing expanding waiting lists, and will make a large investment in both direct care as well as quality improvement. Under the increased FY 2019 funding, quality improvements to the TWC child care services program will include:
- $10 million to expand TWC’s Pre-K Partnership Program, a public-private partnership with the Texas Education Agency, where TRS 4-star providers partner with Independent School Districts and charters schools to expand Pre-K capacity and increase the number of school-ready children.
- $3 million to support the expansion of TRS Mentor and Assessors Program, designed to provide Local Workforce Boards with advanced childcare experts who provide additional guidance and technical assistance to child care providers seeking TRS certification and periodic recertification.
- $7 million to Local Workforce Development Boards to further expand targeted quality initiatives, with a specific focus on quality care of infants and toddlers and for professional development resources for their local child care providers.
- $5.5 million to support early learning centers in Hurricane Harvey impacted areas, providing curricula or other materials needed for the classroom, and equipment, as they pursue a TRS certification.
- $3 million for regional Child Care Business Forums, designed to increase entrepreneurial activity, provide professional development support for administrators, and increase rates of business success leading to TRS 4-star ratings.
- $8 million for TRS Partnership Program, for the establishment of a matching grant opportunity of up to $6 million to nonprofit community-based organizations with a focus on strengthening TRS, improving quality, partnering with local boards and expanding TRS sites in the region. An additional $2 million would be available for programs that support the expansion of infant and toddler programs.
- $3.5 million for System Enhancements, including online child care application, case management enhancements, geographic information system mapping and an Early Childhood Education Data System to more easily collect local data to assist Boards in their decision making.
The expansion afforded through this funding increase for child care services in Texas will result in lasting systematic improvements and will benefit of thousands of Texas families.
The increase in federal child care funding will also support a general 2 percent increase in maximum reimbursement rates for Texas child care providers and larger increases for existing TRS providers based on the 2017 Market Rate Survey. The rate increases are as follows:
- TRS 4 Star Providers maximum reimbursement rate set equal to the 75th Percentile of the 2017 Market Rate Survey
- TRS 3 Star Providers – 90 percent of the 4 Star Rate
- TRS 2 Star Providers – 90 percent of the 3 Star Rate
“We value the opportunity to enhance our early childhood education programs in Texas,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth Ruggero Hughs. “These allocations will give childcare business owners the tools and resources needed to provide high-quality child care in their communities and help us maintain our economic success overall.”
“TWC’s expansion in grants not only helps strengthen the quality of standards for TRS providers but also help increase the enrollment capacity of the program,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “There’s an opportunity for collaborative matching grants that will help attract more quality providers and encourage non-TRS programs to become TRS certified. By partnering with private prekindergarten providers that have demonstrated exemplary performance standards, additional school systems will have an avenue to provide high-quality early childhood education to more Texas children.”