Texans to Vote on Prop 2 as Families Face Child Care Crisis

Texans Care for Children and Others Backed the Legislation to Establish a Tax Break to Support Child Care

In many ways, high-quality child care is the backbone of Texas communities and the economy. Parents across the state need access to child care so they can go to work, whether they’re running a team meeting at the office, running a factory assembly line, or running a vacuum across hotel floors. And they want to ensure that their children are in high-quality care. That means finding child care where kids are safe, rather than toddlers wandering off unsupervised. High-quality child care also means that little kids are in a nurturing environment where they get plenty of attention from trained child care educators who read books to them, sing songs with them, and help them learn to resolve conflicts on the playground. Children who have these experiences during the early years of brain development will be more prepared to succeed in school than toddlers who are propped in front of a TV at the neighbor’s house while their parents are at work.

Unfortunately, it is becoming harder and harder for parents to find high-quality child care, especially for families on a tight budget. Child care providers are reluctant to charge parents even higher tuition, yet their current revenue leaves them unable to pay child care educators enough to stay on the job. Child care educators in Texas make just $12 per hour without benefits, on average. As a result of these financial pressures, child care providers are closing some of their classrooms, or closing down altogether, while desperate parents are calling over and over again trying to find an affordable child care slot.

The child care situation is on the brink of getting even worse for Texas families as programs exhaust the remainder of federal relief funding. Pandemic relief funding for child care, provided by both the Trump and Biden administrations, helped keep child care afloat. However, that funding largely ended on September 30th, leaving child care providers in a precarious financial situation. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TXAEYC) found that more than 1 in 4 child care programs reported that they are likely to close as federal funding ends. A report by the Century Foundation estimated that over 300,000 Texas children will likely lose child care if adequate funding is not available.

Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature failed to pass a $2.3 billion proposal to continue funding for child care. The proposal would have maintained support for child care as the federal funding expired. The Legislature also failed to address the waitlist for the state’s child care subsidy program, which now exceeds 80,000 Texas children.

Fortunately, a bipartisan supermajority of the Legislature did pass SB 1145 to offer financial support to child care providers through a tax cut — if approved by the voters this November. The bill, authored by Sen. Royce West and Rep. James Talarico, will allow municipalities or counties (but not school districts or other jurisdictions) to exempt licensed child care facilities from property taxes collected by that taxing entity if at least 20 percent of their students receive subsidies. That property tax break would provide a modest but important financial boost to child care providers so they can stay open, avoid huge tuition hikes for parents, and provide high-quality care to more children. Our colleagues at Children at Risk have played a leading role in advocating for the bill. Texans Care for Children joined with them, the Texas Women’s Foundation, United Ways of Texas, business groups such as the Texas Restaurant Association and the Dallas Regional Chamber, and other organizations in supporting the bill during the regular legislative session earlier this year. The tax cut will be on the November statewide ballot as Proposition 2. If the voters support it, the next step will be for individual city councils and county commissioner courts to approve a child care tax cut for their local jurisdiction.

The Legislature and Congress will need to do more to support child care after the November vote. While Texans Care for Children has strongly supported the proposed property tax break, state and federal leaders will have much more work ahead of them to ensure that Texas families have access to high-quality child care. Child care funding must be a priority for the Texas Legislature in 2025, and Congress must continue working on options to provide additional federal funding to strengthen child care across the country.

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