Draft Texas Child Care Rules Include Improvements for Kids But Need Additional Work

This week, we submitted our comments to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) regarding the state’s new draft “minimum standards” for child care providers. The new draft is part of the process the state undertakes every six years to update the rules for child care. In July 2021, as HHSC was beginning the process, we provided the agency with our initial recommendations.

As noted in the comments we delivered this week, we are pleased with significant improvements the agency is proposing to support children with disabilities and developmental delays and provide them more opportunities to learn alongside their peers in high-quality inclusive child care settings. In particular, we’re glad to see that child care centers must allow Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) providers to work on-site with the children they serve. However, our comments to HHSC include several recommendations for ways to strengthen the rules to ensure that children with disabilities and delays are adequately served in child care.

Additionally, we are very disappointed to see that the agency’s draft rules undermine children’s safety by failing to improve child-staff ratios and group sizes. Over ten years ago, Child Care Licensing (CCL), then a division of the Department of Family and Protective Services, concluded “the agency does not believe that the current standards for group size or ratios adequately protect the health and safety of children in some age ranges.” Despite this finding, ratios and group size standards have still not changed, leaving children in regulated facilities at risk. The comments we provided to HHSC this week include recommendations to address this challenge. 

More resources on the need to improve Texas child care ratios, including our explainer video, are available here on our website.