We drive policy change to improve the lives of Texas children today for a stronger Texas tomorrow.
We envision a Texas in which all children grow up to be healthy, safe, successful, and on a path to fulfill their promise.
We are a statewide, non-profit, non-partisan, multi-issue children's policy organization. We develop policy solutions, produce research, and engage Texas community leaders to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about what works to improve the well-being of Texas children and families.
Funded by a variety of foundations and individual donations, our work covers child protective services, juvenile justice, mental well-being, health and fitness, early childhood, and the ways that each of those policy areas work together to shape children's lives and the future of Texas.
The organization was launched over 30 years ago by Phil Strickland, then-director of the Christian Life Commission, Baptist General Convention of Texas.
Examples of working with state leaders and partners to establish new state policies
- We led the effort to successfully pass legislation in 2017 to improve access to post-partum depression screenings for 200,000 new mothers.
- We proposed and helped pass a new law in 2015 requiring stronger statewide training and screening requirements for foster parents to enhance the safety and success of children in foster care.
- After we led efforts to make pre-k class size and student-teacher ratios a centerpiece of the HB 4 in 2015, the Legislature passed a provision to add ratio guidelines to the new pre-k grant program.
- We helped pass legislation in 2017 to end nearly all out-of-school suspensions for Texas students in pre-k through second grade.
- We secured passage of legislation in 2015 to provide broader authority for the state Ombudsman tasked with improving youth safety in the juvenile justice system.
- We led efforts to successfully pass legislation in 2017 to improve coordination of services for youth dually involved in the juvenile justice and foster care systems.
- Following our advocacy for the Texas Juvenile Justice Department to ensure juvenile probation departments are using validated risk and needs assessment tools to appropriately assess youth, the state agency took action to ensure more departments made the transition to validated tools.
Examples of driving policy debates and improvements with our research, analysis, and communications
- Our report on suspensions in early grades led to critical community conversations in school districts with particularly high pre-k suspension rates and produced significant media coverage of the topic throughout Texas.
- We published the most comprehensive report to date on teen pregnancy and parenting in Texas foster care, generating extensive press coverage statewide of the challenge and our policy recommendations.
- Our reports on the loss of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services for toddlers with disabilities helped push legislators to increase funding in 2017 and generated media coverage throughout the state.
- By publishing op-eds, generating press coverage, appearing in the media, working with legislators, and taking other steps, our team helped elevate and shape debates on many of the state’s top children’s policy issues in recent years, including maternal health and mortality, CPS reform, funding and standards for pre-k, 17-year-olds in the adult justice system, therapy cuts for children with disabilities, Congressional decisions on funding for Medicaid and CHIP, and more.
EXAMPLES OF WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS
As part of our work to highlight local successes and promising practices and to ensure state policies reflect communities’ goals and needs:
- We’ve gathered and published local input on foster care in Houston and East Texas; on ECI services in the DFW region, the Gulf Coast, and Northeast Texas; on Family Connects programs in Bexar County, Victoria County, and Central Texas; and on pre-k needs in multiple school districts throughout the state.
- We held a summit to bring together stakeholders in the overlapping but too-often separate spheres of childhood trauma, maternal health, infant health equity, and support for young children with disabilities.
- As part our work to share lessons learned by community organizations and others, we convened a three-part discussion series on the opioid crisis, substance use in Texas, state policies and programs, and the impact on Texas children.
- We organized full-house legislative briefings in the Capitol on early education, foster care, children’s mental health, and juvenile justice issues.