From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis
For Immediate Release
January 27, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113
Senators Ellis, Zaffirini Seek Increased Access to Affordable, High Quality Child Care for Texas Families.
AUSTIN, Tx. -- State Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) today announced four new legislative initiatives aimed at increasing access to affordable, high quality child care for Texas families. The lawmakers said the legislative package will seek additional child care funding and provide new incentives to increase the quality of care available to Texas children.
"We want to urge state lawmakers to make quality child care a top priority," said Senator Ellis. "Reliable child care is important not only for the support it gives to working parents, but also because it protects and nurtures our next generation -- our future workforce."
"We hope to increase access to affordable, high quality child care for working families in Texas," Senator Zaffirini added. "Quality child care expands opportunities for children, supports parents in the workplace and helps build a stronger Texas economy."
According to the two senators, changes in federal welfare reform and new realities facing the Texas workforce demand that state lawmakers increase efforts to expand child care for Texas families. A 1996 study by Working Mother Magazine reported that 2.8 million Texas children under the age of 18 have both parents -- or their only parent -- in the workforce. The study also found that there is only one accredited child care center for every 2,637 children in Texas and only one accredited family child care home for every 10,424 children.*
"Access to affordable, high quality child care is a struggle for thousands of Texas families," said Ellis. "Reliable child care allows parents to join the workforce and be productive employees without sacrificing the well-being of their children."
To increase access to affordable, quality child care, the Ellis/Zaffirini legislative package will seek increased child care funding and provide incentives to promote quality care for children. According to Ellis and Zaffirini, Texas lawmakers should:
- Maximize Federal Child Care Funds. (SB 211) The new federal welfare reform law makes available up to $499 million in additional funds for child care in Texas over the next six years. SB 211 creates the Texas Child Care Fund to pool private dollars that may be used to obtain the maximum available federal child care matching funds.
- Provide Loan Guarantees for Quality Child Care. (SB 212) Leverage state, local and private funds to provide loan guarantees to child care providers who make improvements in the quality of child care services and facilities. Loans guaranteed by the state may be used to support investments to improve the child-to-staff ratio, improve training and salaries of child care staff, expand and improve facilities or to make child care more affordable for low-income families.
- The Texas Child Care Loan Guarantee Fund would facilitate small business lending by guaranteeing private-sector loans to child care providers. Loan guarantees do not cost the state money unless a provider defaults on a loan. Priority would be given to providers in areas of Texas that lack quality child care. A number of states have already established similar initiatives including Arkansas, Maryland, Tennessee, New York and New Hampshire.
- Expand Link Deposit Programs to Include Child Care Providers. (SB 265) The legislation would expand Texas' Small Business Linked Deposit Program to include qualified child care providers. Lenders already take advantage of a Linked Deposit Program to provide low-interest loans to small businesses located in economically distressed communities. In a linked-deposit arrangement, the state makes a deposit in a financial institution in return for the bank's commitment to invest some or part of the amount in low-interest loans to certain types of businesses. Texas could facilitate private-sector lending for child care services by expanding this program to child care providers.
- Establish Child Care Training Centers for Welfare Recipients. (SB 213) To expand access to child care and provide valuable training to welfare recipients, SB 213 directs the Texas Workforce Commission's Child Care Management System (CCMS) to establish regulations and requirements for the licensing of child care facilities to offer training and certification in the Child Development Associate (CDA) national credential to recipients of public assistance. The program would offer training in basic child care, child care vendor entrepreneurial training and Head Start Training. Based on Comptroller Sharp TPR Recommendation WF6.
"When additional resources are provided -- from businesses, community foundations or other sources -- the availability and quality of child care can be dramatically improved," said Senator Ellis. "With a strong commitment to child care, children will get the care they need and employers will benefit from a higher level of employee retention, higher productivity and reduced absenteeism."
"We all have a stake in improving access to affordable, quality child care," Zaffirini said. "The success of our families and our economy depends on our meeting the child care challenge."
* According to National Assoc. for the Education of Young Children and the National Assoc. for Family Child Care standards.