Resources for Parents & Families
Parents of young children have a tremendous amount of decisions
to make with regards to the care and education of their children.
What type of program is best for their children? How much money
should a family spend on care? How can a family ensure that the
program they select is high quality? Are there public programs that
can support families in providing early care and education for
their children? Are there effective ways to support learning in the
home? What questions should a parent ask a provider to ensure his
or her child is receiving care that supports optimal development?
These questions are just examples of what parents must consider in
their approach to the early care and education of their
The Texas Early Learning Council is dedicated to providing
parents and families with tools and information to assist them in
making informed decisions about early care and education programs
and services. To do this, the Council has several exciting projects
that will take place over the next three years. Parents will be
able to visit this website to access critical information on child
development, early care and education programs, and news and
information on the Texas early care and education system that may
affect programs they access.
The Council will work with community partners across the state
to enhance awareness of the importance of quality early education
and care. Council efforts will be made to ensure that information
is made available to all Texans, particularly those in
underrepresented and special populations. A key part of the
Council's mandate is to promote awareness of and participation in
high-quality programs by Texas families. The Council will commit
significant resources to accomplish this. Efforts of Council in
this area include:
- A comprehensive, statewide needs
assessment, which will give parents, stakeholders, and
policymakers a clear portrait of the current demand and
availability of early care and education programs and services
- An early care and education standards comparison
tool, also known as a "crosswalk," which will allow parents and
others to quickly gather knowledge on the standards,
accreditations, and practices of each of the diverse early care and
education programs operating throughout the state.
- Infant and Toddler Early Learning Guidelines,
which will provide milestones for development between birth and age
three for young children. Parents and other stakeholders will have
a tremendous resource of strategies for promoting learning and
optimal development in these crucial early years.
- An outreach and communications
campaign aimed at educating parents and communities about early
care and education programs and services, as well as knowledge of
the needs of children in the early years of development.
- A statewide integrated early childhood data
system, which has the potential to offer parents the
opportunity to search for programs and services in their areas and
to access data on the quality and effectiveness of those
- An early care and education career development
system, which has the potential to provide parents with
information on the qualifications and training of the staff at
programs in their areas.
- An online resource center, which is available below. Parents
will be able to access an in-depth collection of resources and
information on early care and education, as well as the programs
and systems they access.
Parents and stakeholders who work with parents are encouraged to
sign up for the Council's Newsletter or routinely visit this page
in order to stay informed about new Council tools and resources as
they become available.
The Texas Early Learning Council will work to provide parents
with tools that will increase their ability to navigate the complex
Texas early care and education system and increase their knowledge
of early child development. Please stay tuned to this page for
updates and new tools for parents.
Finding care for your child
Types of regulated Child Care:
- Listed Family Homes: Family homes that provide
regular child care in their own homes for 1-3 unrelated children.
There are no minimum standards, orientation or training
requirements for listed homes. They are not inspected unless a
report is received.
- Registered OPERATIONS: Registered Child Care Homes
provide care in the caregiver's home for up to six children under
age 14; they may also take in up to six more school-age children.
The number of children allowed in a home is determined by the ages
of the children. No more than 12 children can be in care at any
time, including children of the caregiver. Registered homes are
inspected every 1-two years and if a report is received.
- Licensed OPERATIONS: All types of licensed
operations have published standards they are required to follow and
are routinely monitored and inspected. Operations are inspected
according to the level of risk associated with deficiencies cited
at each inspection and if a report is received related to child
abuse/neglect or standards deficiencies. Licensed Facilities
include day care and 24-hour residential care.
Locating child care:
Make sure you do your homework before selecting a child care
provider. Your choice of child care has a huge affect on your
child. Below are some tools that can help you find out the facts
before entrusting your child to someone else.
Child Care Assistance:
Certain families qualify for financial assistance for child care
for their children under the age of 13 based family income and
other factors. In some cases, parents can receive assistance with
100% of the cost of care, in other instances, parents must pay a
monthly co-payment that tends to range from 9%-11% of their monthly
income. Availability and income requirements vary depending on what
area of Texas families resides in. Generally, however, child care
assistance is only available for families with an income at 185% of
the state median income or less. To determine eligibility for child
care assistance, parents must consult with their local workforce
center. Visit this page to locate the closest workforce
center near you. Be sure to check the "child care assistance"
Public School Pre-k consists of full-day and half-day programs,
for children ages 3 and 4, operated in local school districts. A
child qualifies for Public School Pre-k if he or she meets at least
one of the following criteria:
(1) is unable to speak and comprehend the English
(2) is educationally disadvantaged (Eligible to participate
National School Lunch Program);
(3) is a homeless child;
(4) is the child of an active duty member of the armed forces of
the United States, including the state military forces or a reserve
component of the armed forces, who is ordered to active duty by
(5) is the child of a member of the armed forces of the United
States, including the state military forces or a reserve component
of the armed forces, who was injured or killed while serving on
active duty; or
(6) is or ever has been in the conservatorship of the Department
of Family and Protective Services
If at least 15 children in a district meet at least one of the
requirements listed above, The district must provide at least a
half-day pre-k program. State funded pre-k is free to children who
qualify. To enroll your child in public school pre-k contact your school district.
Head Start is a federal program that funds comprehensive
services for children and families including education, health,
nutrition, and social services. Children from birth to age five
from families with low income, according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal
government, are eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start
services. Children in foster care, homeless children, and children
from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are
categorically eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start services
regardless of income.
Head Start programs may enroll up to 10% of children from
families that have incomes above the Poverty Guidelines. Programs
may also serve up to an additional 35% of children from families
whose incomes are above the Poverty Guidelines, but below 130% of
the poverty line if the program can ensure that certain conditions
have been met. Head Start is free for eligible children.
Locate a Head Start program near you.
Early Childhood Intervention (ECI):
ECI provides evaluations, at no cost to families, to determine
eligibility and the need for services for children ages birth to 3.
Families and professionals work together as a team to plan
appropriate services based on the unique strengths and needs of the
child and family. Services are provided in the home and in
community settings such as child care facilities, play groups and
Mothers' Day Out programs. For help in locating ECI services,
please call the DARS Inquiries Line, or search online to find a service or program in your area.
Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD):
Child ages 3-5 with disabilities may qualify for PPCD programs
through their local school district. To inquire about your child's
eligibility for PPCD, contact your local school district and let
them know you would are interested in seeking a referral for your
child for the PPCD program.
Child care assistance for children with disabilities:
Some workforce centers offer increased subsidies for children
with disabilities, but they are scarce. To inquire about this type
of care, contact your local workforce center
- Many local communities and non-profits offer services for
children with disabilities. To learn more about the local resources
around you contact the State's 211 system.
- Texas Parent to Parent, offers a local program
search and resource directory for parents of children with
Texas Rising Star Provider Certification:
A Texas Rising Star Provider is a child care provider that has an
agreement to serve Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) subsidized
children and that voluntarily meets requirements that exceed the
State's Minimum Licensing Standards for child care facilities. The
Texas Rising Star Provider certification system provides graduated
levels of certification as providers meet progressively higher
certification requirements from 1 to 4 stars. To find providers
with Texas Rising Star Certifications, please contact your local
Texas Workforce Board. Find your local Texas Workforce Board
Texas School Ready! Certification System:
is a program that certifies preschool education
classrooms that effectively prepared their students for
kindergarten. Texas School Ready! is administered by the Childrens
Learning Institute and is based on the actual linking between the
quality instructional practices that must be in place in a
preschool program to get children ready for kindergarten AND the
children actually achieving scores showing they were on track in
the areas of reading and social skills when they went to
Many national organizations offer certified accreditations to
child care centers that meet certain standards. Parents should
inquire about center accreditations when selecting an early care
and education program for their child. Don't be afraid to ask the
director if their accreditation is current. The most common
accreditations in Texas are:
Tools to help parents support the healthy development of their
- Early Childhood
Calendar: a parent's guide to healthy, happy children.
Available in English and Spanish.
- Texas Education Agency - Early Childhood Education
in Texas: Learn about TEA's early childhood education
- The Magic of Everyday Moments: This resource
by Zero-to-Three offers information on how
children grow and develop from 4 to 6 Months. You'll find tips for
how parents and children can nurture their children's healthy
development through everyday routines and interactions.
- Interactive baby brain map: This tool allows
you to see precise how young brains develop and what you can do to
support healthy brain growth.
- Family budget estimator:
See what housing, care, medical and other expenses will cost you in
- PBS Parents: a website that offers a wide array
of tools and information of health child development
- Texas Project First: a website created by
parents, for parents to provide information and resources on
special education in Texas.
- Texas Parent to
Parent: provides support and information for families and
children with disabilities, chronic illness, and other special
- Training videos for parents on Infant and Toddler
care: Eight free courses for parents on caring for young
children from the Department of Family and Protective
- Safe sleeping tips for your baby and you: On
average, almost 400 Texas babies die in their sleep each year -
suddenly, unexpectedly, and without a clear explanation or due to
accidental suffocation or strangulation. That's why it is so
important to always give babies "Room to Breathe."
- Born Learning: a public engagement campaign
website that helps parents, grandparents and caregivers explore
ways to turn everyday moments into fun learning opportunities.
- Parenting Counts: a
developmental timeline for children, birth to age 5, on their
skills and abilities in physical, social, learning, and
- Text4baby: a free service that provides
health and safety text messages to parents throughout their
pregnancy and the first year of life of their child