CHILDREN AT RISK, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research organization, undertook a year-long effort to study the subsidized child care system in Texas. This included an in-depth analysis of the system’s local and state partners, as well as the promotion of the study’s findings and key recommendations. This report is one of the products of this effort.

The purpose of this report is twofold. One purpose is to educate parents, policy makers, and the public about the subsidized child care system in Texas. This report describes the system and challenges confronted by child care providers and those parents who need quality child care. The second purpose is to offer policy recommendations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the subsidized child care system on behalf of parents, taxpayers, and—most importantly—children. The recommendations emphasize coordination and cooperation among state agencies so that they can avoid duplication and maximize state investments while they serve the large population of children in the subsidized child care system.

Key Take Away Points

  • To improve outcomes for children, maximize efficiency, and save taxpayer dollars, the Texas Legislature should increase coordination of child care and Pre-K data systems at the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission through the Early Childhood Database System.
  • To increase access to quality Pre-K, support private businesses, and save taxpayer money, the Texas Legislature should increase local coordination of early education programs by supporting current efforts to develop public/private partnerships between school districts and high-quality child care providers.
  • To ensure the transparent use of taxpayer dollars for highquality child care, the Texas Workforce Commission and Local Workforce Development Boards (Local Boards) should report to parents and the Texas Legislature: 1) the number and percentage of children receiving subsidies who are in high-quality child care settings by each quality level; 2) the number of quality seats available at each quality level to children through the subsidy; and 3) the amount spent on different quality initiatives across the state. .
  • To facilitate a successful transition from child care to the formal K-12 system, the Texas Education Agency should create an early childhood through 3rd grade teaching certificate program. By encouraging teachers to focus on earlier grades, this certification would increase the number of teachers who are experts in teaching children during these pivotal early learning years.
  • To ensure interagency coordination of parent engagement activities, the Texas Legislature should create a parent education task force to coordinate efforts by the Texas Workforce Commission and other state agencies to build stronger families and spend public dollars more efficiently.

Author Biography

Research and production conducted by CHILDREN AT RISK.

Robert Sanborn, Ed. D.,President & CEO

Mandi Sheridan Kimball, MSW, Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs

Katie McConnell, Ed. D., Chief Operating Officer

Shay Everitt, MSW, Assistant Director, Public Policy and Early Education

Kellie O’Quinn, MSW, Assistant Director, Public Policy and Early Education

Jesus Davila, MPP, Assistant Director, Center for Social Measurement and Evaluation


This report was prepared with the extensive participation of the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Department of Family Protective Services, and the Texas Education Agency. These agencies also provided valuable data and information that was used in this report to examine state-funded early education programs. CHILDREN AT RISK thanks the Local Workforce Board representatives, child care providers, and school district representatives who documented their experiences and status of early education by completing online surveys and participating in interviews as well as local roundtable discussions. The Texas Workforce Commission provided valuable data and information that was used in this report to examine subsidized child care. CHILDREN AT RISK is also grateful to the parents across Texas who provided critical insight through group discussions. We thank the state agency leaders, nonprofit leaders, advocacy organization leaders, and public officials and their staff who participated in the development of the study’s research. Their time and feedback were essential to the success of this research.

This report was made possible through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. We appreciate their commitment to quality early education and better outcomes for families in Texas.

CHILDREN AT RISK formed two advisory committees: The Academic Advisory Council to help guide research design and the Early Education Task Force to help vet policy recommendations and messaging. Membership is strictly voluntary, by invitation, and is a diverse representation of institutions of higher education and representatives from the nonprofit community. Members have provided vital input and guidance concerning areas of impact, outreach, and the development of the survey instrument. The policy recommendations do not necessarily reflect the considered views of the advisory committees, nor do they indicate a commitment to a particular course of action.