Texas Legislators Announce Early Childhood Caucus

For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Clark,
pclark@txchildren.org, 512-473-2274

Austin – At a virtual press conference at 3:30 today, members of the Texas Legislature will announce a new Early Childhood Caucus to bring together lawmakers in the Texas House on a bipartisan basis to explore policy opportunities to better support the parents of young children, promote healthy child development, and improve kindergarten readiness, early literacy, and school success. The Caucus, which includes 32 founding members, is led by Rep. Diego Bernal (Chair), Rep. Angie Chen-Button (Vice-Chair), Rep. James Talarico (Treasurer), and Rep. Julie Johnson (Secretary). The Caucus has launched a new website, www.texashouseecc.com, which lists the rest of the Caucus members and additional information on their goals.

Members of the media can log on to the press conference at 3:30 via http://bit.ly/TexasECC.


Early childhood policy advocates praised lawmakers for launching the Caucus and pledged to work closely with Caucus members.

“We’re really excited to see so many legislators committed to ensuring that our state policies give kids a strong start in life,” said David Feigen, Early Childhood Policy Associate at Texans Care for Children. “From bolstering high-quality child care to providing health coverage to little kids to tackling the COVID academic slide for English Learners and other young students, we know there are a lot of opportunities for legislators to come together to support our youngest kids in Texas. Although parents are their children’s first and most important nurturer and teacher, smart public policies are critical to support infants and toddlers during this critical period of rapid brain development.”


The 2019 legislative session was rightfully celebrated as an unprecedented step forward for early childhood, as state leaders passed bipartisan legislation requiring full-day pre-k for eligible four-year olds, addressed critical safety and quality concerns in child care, and increased funding to support maternal health. However, Texas has a long way to go to ensure all families can access quality services and information to support their child’s development.  

In the current Texas legislative session, there are significant early childhood bills and budget decisions under consideration, including:

The Texas data point to big challenges and opportunities ahead, including:

  • 1 in 10 babies in the U.S. is born in Texas.
  • More than one in five kids live at or below the poverty level, including many throughout their first few years of life.
  • Only 52 percent of Texas children are considered kindergarten-ready. 
  • Public pre-k programs are still limited to children who meet narrow eligibility criteria and do not have any limitations on class size, leading to many classes having more than 30 four-year-olds per teacher.
  • Less than half of three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in early learning programs that can help children develop the social, emotional, and learning tools they need to be ready for school. 
  • The average Texas family of four spends nearly $16,000 per year on child care, and 45 percent of families live in a child care desert.
  • 8.3 percent of kids under six years old do not have health insurance — nearly twice the national average.
  • The early childhood system in Texas is complex and fragmented, overseen by five state agencies.