Parents, Children, Providers, and Employers Need the Legislature to Build on Last Session’s Child Care Progress

Ten Texas organizations delivered joint comments to the Texas House International Relations and Economic Development Committee for its hearing on May 19, 2022 regarding child care.

In the comments, the organizations:

  • outlined the positive child care steps the Legislature took in 2021;
  • discussed the child care crisis facing parents, children, child care providers, and employers; and
  • provided six policy recommendations to the Legislature.

Discussing the child care crisis, the organizations explained:

Even before the pandemic, many Texas families had difficulty finding affordable, high-quality child care. The situation is much worse today: According to HHSC, since 2020, the number of home-based providers decreased by 15 percent and the total licensed capacity in the state decreased by eight percent. 

PARENTS need better child care options.  Too many parents cannot work because child care is not available nearby or is too expensive, due to the high costs for programs and the lack of public financing. Many of those who have child care are facing crushing monthly tuition bills while they deal with rising prices for housing, gas, and other essentials. In Texas, the average family spends nearly $16,000 a year on child care. Seventy percent of Texas children age five and under with low-income working parents live in a community without access to financial assistance for child care, also known as a subsidized child care desert. 

CHILDREN need high-quality child care during this critical age for brain development. Experiences and relationships during the first three years of life — both positive and negative — shape children’s brain architecture and the way they learn, behave, and develop when they start school.

CHILD CARE PROVIDERS need policymakers to step up. Providers of all kinds — centers, home-based, faith-based, non-profit, small businesses, etc. — are in an untenable position, with parents paying more than they can afford, staff who are severely underpaid, and directors/owners often forsaking their own salary. Child care educators often make around $10 per hour with few or no benefits, leaving them in near poverty, and creating constant turnover that puts programs on the verge of closing. 

EMPLOYERS need employees who have reliable child care. Texas businesses lose an average of $13 billion annually due to insufficient child care. As Angela Farley from the Dallas Regional Chamber and Brendan McGuire from PNC Bank in North Texas wrote, “Access to affordable, high-quality child care is too important for the business community to ignore. The disruption of lives and careers is at stake. By giving working parents the peace of mind that their children are safe and well cared for, companies can look after their bottom lines and growth.”