From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
February 13, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Legislation Creating the Texas Child Care Fund Passes Senate,Seeks to Maximize Federal Funds for Child Care Services.

AUSTIN, Tx. -- Legislation by State Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), Royce West (D-Dallas) and Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) aimed at increasing access to child care for Texas families passed the Senate today with unanimous support. The measure, creating the Texas Child Care Fund, would pool all available state, local, nonprofit and private dollars to help Texas maximize federal funds for child care.

"The new federal welfare law makes $499.3 million in federal child care matching funds available to Texas," said Senator Ellis. "We want to ensure that we take advantage of those resources."

According to the senators, changes in federal welfare law 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.*

"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 -- the future of Texas," said Senator West. "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 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."

Texas spends less than other states on child care services, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. For fiscal year 1997, Texas will spend approximately $50.2 million on child care, Massachusetts will spend $184 million and California will spend $475 million. In addition, Texas will serve only 4.24 percent of eligible children for fiscal year 1997.

"Access to affordable, high quality child care is a struggle for thousands of Texas families," said Ellis. "Texas can clearly do more to increase the availability of child care for working parents."

"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.