With a month left to go in the Texas legislative session, it’s becoming increasingly clear which bills still have a chance to pass the House and Senate and — barring the Governor’s veto — become law.
Fortunately, a number of strong bills to improve child care are on the move and still have a chance to make it if legislators, advocates, and other Texans keep pushing to get them over the finish line.
We have been pleased to see that this session, state legislators have focused more on child care policy and oversight than they have in the past. We are hopeful that lawmakers’ interest in child care — spurred by an Austin American-Statesman investigation and the realization that the state has neglected this critical policy area for years — will continue over the next month and into the 2021 legislative session as well.
If the following bills do become law, together they will represent an important step forward to ensure that more Texas children in child care are safe, healthy, and — during this critical age for brain development — developing the social, emotional, and learning tools they'll need for school.
Passed the House, Waiting for a Hearing in the Senate:
HB 680 by Rep. Joe Deshotel would require the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to assess and report the average cost of child care and the total number of providers and children participating in the state’s quality rating system, Texas Rising Star.
Passed the Senate, Waiting for a Hearing in the House:
SB 568 by Sen. Joan Huffman would ensure more information is available to parents on the safety records of child care centers and strengthen the child care license renewal process, among other reforms.
SB 569 by Sen. Joan Huffman would increase oversight for a group of small in-home child care operations the state classifies as “listed family homes.”
The House Human Services Committee has held hearings on HB 4261 and HB 4259 by Rep. Greg Bonnen, which mirror SB 568 and SB 569, respectively. The House Committee has not voted on the bills.
SB 705 by Sen. Kirk Watson would improve a public DFPS database that allows parents to view child care violations over the past two years by requiring more details about the incidents to be posted and by extending the time frame to five years. It would also require parental notification if there is an instance of sexual abuse at the child care center where their children are enrolled.
SB 706 by Sen. Kirk Watson would reinstate an investigation unit within the Health and Human Services Commission to seek out illegally operating child-care facilities. (House hearing scheduling for April 30th.)
SB 952 by Sen. Kirk Watson would update and clarify minimum standards for nutrition and active play — areas already regulated through child care licensing standards — to ensure more children have a healthy start.
The House Human Services Committee has approved HB 1808 by Rep. Eddie Lucio, which mirrors SB 952.
Voted out of Committee, Waiting to be Scheduled for a Vote of the Full House:
HB 1682 by Rep. John Raney would direct HHSC to collect data on caregiver-child ratios and group size standards, as well as serious violations and injuries. The information will help state leaders assess whether current standards adequately protect and support enrolled children.
The Senate Health and Human Services Committee has held a hearing on SB 708 by Judith Zaffirini, which mirrors HB 1682.
Had a Hearing, Waiting for a Committee Vote:
The deadlines in the legislative process make it very unlikely that bills still waiting for a committee vote will pass this session.
HB 4450 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez would address the regulation of child-care facilities and registered family homes providing services to children with disabilities or special needs.