early education 83 rd legislative session recap and next steps n.
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  2. Early Childhood Movement:Ten Years of Budget Success $69.9 M $35 M 82nd Legislative Session (2011) PROTECTION of $32.4 million in early education and $17.7 million in home visitation funding $15 M $10 M 2003 2005 2007 2009

  3. Early Childhood Movement: 10 Years of Policy Success

  4. Early Childhood Movement: 10 Years of Policy Success

  5. Hot Topics In the 83rd Legislative Session • Restoration of the $5.4 billion cut from public education in the 82nd Legislative Session • School Finance • Testing and Assessments • Push for all education funding in the formulas, and giving districts autonomy • Half-Day vs. Full-Day Pre-K

  6. Our Work Last Session • Texans Care for Children advocated for improvements in early care and education that would help with educational achievement. We called for: • Improvements in child care quality • The restoration of pre-K funding • Improvements in how Texas measures children’s school readiness

  7. Raising the Quality of Childcare • HB 376 (Strama) – Passed • Establishes graduated reimbursement rates for subsidized child care providers based on the Texas Rising Star Program at TWC • Creates a work group charged with producing a plan to measure quality among providers • Provides for technical assistance, quality initiatives, and information for parents about quality of local providers

  8. SB 427 (Nelson) – Passed • Strengthens regulation of residential child care facilities by requiring providers to undergo fingerprint background checks. Allows for biennial inspections of child care facilities that have a history of compliance with minimum licensing standards • SB 64 (Nelson) – Passed • Protects children by requiring child care facilities to put policies in place that require child care workers to receive vaccines based on how much exposure they have to children • HB 1741 (Naishtat) – Passed • Requires licensed day-care centers to equip certain vehicles with child safety alarms Child Care Regulation

  9. HB 742 (Strama)– Passed • Creates a grant program that allows for additional summer educational opportunities for educationally disadvantaged students • HB 1122 (Johnson) – Passed • Establishes a pilot program for a three year high school diploma plan and uses savings to expand pre-K • The Pre-Kindergarten Early Start Grant Program (PKES) – did not get restored, • $3.9 billion was restored to public education overall. Some of this will benefit pre-K. • $30 million was set aside via rider as supplemental pre-K funding. This will be distributed per ADA. Pre-K

  10. Measuring School Readiness • SB 172 (Carona) – Passed • Requires Commissioner of Education to include a multi-dimensional assessment tool, which would assess domains beyond pre-literacy, on the approved list of tools for kindergarten • Kindergarten Readiness System (KRS) – Did not receive funding, but TEA and the Children’s Learning Institute have received a federal grant to develop a new Kindergarten Entry Assessment System

  11. What Did Not Pass But Should Have • HB 660 (Strama) – Did not pass • Would have required the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to fund a scholarship program (known as TEACH) for child care workers to pursue an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in child development • SB 1119 (West) – Did not receive a hearing • Would have lowered staff-to-child ratios for 2 and 3 year olds in child care to ensure a safer environment

  12. Budget Bright Spots • $3.9 Billion restored to public education • Maintenance of $30.4 million in funding for the Texas School Ready! Project • A rider in the budget calls for TWC to allocate $500,000 each year to improve the professional development of early education workers


  14. The Early Education Alliance • Mission: • Shares information and coordinates advocacy efforts that enhance safety and early learning opportunities in child care, and improve the quality of and access to pre-K in Texas to help ensure that all students enter school ready for success • First meeting held on Oct. 10, 2013 • Forum on early opportunities strengthened in the 83rd session and a discussion of next steps • Prior to the meeting, Texans Care for Children conducted an early education priorities survey and asked the early education field to identify priority issues for the next legislative session • Next meeting February 27th in Austin

  15. Priority Issues Identified in Survey • Top priority issues for child care: • Reduce child care ratios to better align with national standards and to increase safety • Measures that would prevent child care subsidies from going to unsafe child care facilities • Improve quality of training for child care workers • Top priority issues for pre-K: • Reduction of pre-K class size • Reducing pre-K ratios • Other issues identified by respondents included the need for full-day pre-K

  16. The Youngest Learners: Need for Better Quality in Child Care • Reduction of child care ratios • Currently, staff/child ratios do not align with nationally recommended standards in six age groups • Training of child care workers • National recommendations (NACCRA) suggest that lead teachers should have a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, college courses or an associate’s degree in early childhood education • Need to improve training that addresses core competencies

  17. Current pre-K Initiatives • TEA - Creating a pre-K module in the Texas State Data System • Children’s Learning Institute – Awarded $3.9 million to establish a Kindergarten Entry Assessment • Children at Risk – Undertaking a pre-K data collection project with certain districts

  18. Continuing Issues in Pre-K • Annie E. Casey report stated that 64-68 percent of at-risk three and four year olds lacked access to preschool. Implies state/districts need better outreach • Many areas in Texas, particularly rural areas, lack funding, facilities, capacity, and teaching staff for pre-K; Wait lists exist in some areas • Data collection needs: • Currently, TEA does not collect data from the districts on full/half day, class size, outreach efforts, pre-K assessments • Lack of oversight or accountability of pre-K programs; TEA lacks the capacity to monitor

  19. Improve Quality of Pre-K • Deficiencies identified by The National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) • State spending per pre-K student dropped in 2012 • Texas only meets 2 of 10 quality benchmarks • Reduction of pre-K class size and pre-K ratios • Texas does not currently have a mandated student/teacher ratio or maximum class size for pre-K classrooms; Some classes as high as 28 students • Teacher Qualifications • NIEER recommends that pre-K teachers, in addition to a bachelor degree, have specialized training in early childhood or pre-K; Texas does not require this

  20. Need For Full Day Pre-K • With the loss of PKES grant, some districts had to eliminate their full day programs • TEA estimates it would cost $1.5 billion to fund full day programs • E3 Alliance conducted research on enrollment rates for districts with full day programs vs. half day programs • Districts with full day pre-K programs had significantly higher rates of enrollment for eligible children (81%) as compared to districts with half day pre-K programs (69%) • Additionally, students who attended full day pre-K were better prepared for school in the language and communication domain compared to students who attended half day pre-K

  21. Texas is the only one of the 10 most populous states that does not have a dedicated office or division for early learning within state government • TEA had four Pre-K staff members prior to 2011. In 2011, the agency was reduced by about a third. • Currently there is only one staff member dedicated to early learning at TEA • TEA does not have the capacity to coordinate adequately with the federal Education Service Centers • TEA lacks the staffing to oversee pre-K standards, or provide adequate assistance to districts on best practices Need for Additional Resources

  22. AdvocacyThrough Elected Officials • Find Out Who Represents You • If you do not already know who represents you, visit to enter your address and find out. Let your elected officials know, not just during the legislative session, but during the interim, that early childhood education is a priority to you. Invite them to visit your program so they can see first hand. • Be Clear and Make Your Case • Legislators want to know the basics of the issue and what they can do to help. Many advocates make the mistake of providing a lot of information but no action for the legislator to take. For example, you can say "Please designate more funding for pre-K programs in Texas"

  23. Media • Invite the media to local events you are hosting. This will provide a great opportunity to bring attention to your work and inform the media about how the decision-making in Austin will impact your program. • Finally, get involved with other early childhood advocacy organizations and make your voice heard!  • Sign up for our Early Education Alliance Newsletter at • Contact Information: Andrea Brauer, Early Education Policy Associate • 512.473.2274