Resources for Policymakers
The Texas Early Learning Council brings together top institutional and organizational leaders for collective action to increase collaboration and system efficiency across the entire early care and education landscape in the state so that Texas children receive what they need to arrive at Kindergarten ready for school.
In the past, numerous attempts have been made to integrate and improve systems alignment in early care and education in Texas. Some have been successful, others have not. The Texas Early Learning Council is unique, however, in that it brings a sufficient level of financial resources to the work that previous efforts lacked. Not only does the Council have participation from all sectors involved in early care and education in Texas, there are funds available to drive lasting improvements.
As is the case with most states, Texas' early care and education system is really a non-system. It is better described as a collection of programs and interventions, rather than a coordinated strategic effort. The landscape is confusing to most who operate within it, and for those outside of it, such as parents, it can be daunting. Consider the groups involved with serving just children ages 3-4. If the parents' income level qualifies or if their children meet certain requirements, these families may be able to access up to 3 programs:
The Texas Pre-k Patchwork
- Public School Pre-k programs may be half-day or full-day.
- Public School Pre-k programs serve children 3 and 4.
- A Pre-k program may be designated a PreK Center of Excellence (beginning 2013).
- A Pre-k program's teacher may receive mentoring or coaching.
- A Pre-k program's teacher may have specialized training in early childhood development.
- All Pre-k teachers must have bachelor's degrees and be state certified.
- A Pre-k program may follow the Texas Pre-kindergarten Guidelines.
- Class sizes and teacher to child ratios vary in pre-k.
- Pre-k Classrooms operate under local school safety guidelines.
- Head Start programs may be half-day or full-day.
- Head Start programs serve children ages birth to 5.
- Texas Head Start programs may or may not be accredited by national accreditation organizations.
- Texas Head Start programs may be designated a PreK Center of Excellence (beginning 2013).
- Head Start teachers may receive mentoring or coaching.
- Head Start teachers must have specialized training in early childhood development.
- Head Start programs offer comprehensive services like dental, nutritional support, and health screenings.
- Head Start programs operate under the Head Start Performance Standards, but the quality and effectiveness of programs varies from site to site.
- Some Head Start programs work together with public schools to share space, educators, and other resources.
- Head Start teachers must have an associate's degree and all will be required to have a bachelor's degree by 2013.
- Head Start programs must adhere to child care minimum safety standards.
- Subsidized child care takes place in non-profit and for-profit centers.
- There are different classifications of child care in Texas for licensing and regulation purposes:
- 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.
- Subsidized child care programs may serve children ages birth to 13
- Child care centers may be nationally accredited, or receive anywhere from 2-4 stars in the Texas Rising Star program.
- Child care centers may be designated as PreK Centers of Excellence (beginning 2013).
- Programs that are nationally accredited or participating in the Texas Rising Star program are eligible for at least a 5% increase in their subsidy rate.
- A child care teacher may receive mentoring or coaching.
- A child care teacher must have some specialized training in early childhood development.
- A child care teacher must have a high school diploma or GED.
- Depending on the area of Texas, a child care program may receive mentoring and other supports from the local workforce board.
- Child care programs must adhere to child care minimum standards.
The patchwork of programs, systems, and entities illustrated above presents difficult challenges for parents, early care and education professionals, and other stakeholders. Policymakers may find it difficult to make informed decisions when the landscape is as complex and fragmented as it is in Texas. The work of the Texas Early Learning Council will improve the integration of this landscape, as well as provide communities and policymakers with key tools that increase knowledge and understanding of all of the systems involved.
Please read our federal grant application. It explains the Council's three year plan along with the impetus for the goals listed. If you have any questions at all or requests for specific information, feel free to contact us.
Early care and education is a growing public policy area, involving multiple public and private sectors, diverse stakeholders, and plenty of discourse. The links below are just as sampling of what is available to the public. Please feel welcomed to contact us for more information on any of these topics.