From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

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

Senator Rodney Ellis Named "Legislator of the Year" by Texas Child Care Organization.

HOUSTON, Tx. -- State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) was named "Legislator of the Year" by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) for his work to promote access to affordable, quality child care for Texas families on Friday, October 10 in Houston. The statewide child care association honored Senator Ellis for a series of legislative initiatives that he sponsored to make quality child care a priority in Texas.

"Quality child care expands opportunities for children, supports parents in the workplace and helps build a stronger economy," said Ellis. "I look forward to continuing our efforts to make quality child care more available to working families."

During the 1997 legislative session, Ellis sponsored a number of child care initiatives including low-interest loan programs for child care providers, state grants for school-based child care services, child care training for members of local workforce development boards and a pilot program to provide training for welfare recipients to become child care professionals.

"Access to quality child care is a daily struggle for thousands of parents who must delicately balance obligations to their employers and the needs of their children," said Ellis. "Reliable child care is essential to our state's economic future."

According to Ellis, 2.8 million Texas children under the age of 18 have both parents -- or their only parent -- in the workforce. By the year 2000, 70 percent of preschool-age children will have working mothers. Nationally, companies lose $3 billion annually because of employee absences caused by child care problems. One study revealed that 82 percent of the working parents surveyed had missed days at work, arrived to work late, left work early or used work time to deal with child care problems.

Ellis said that investing in children today is the best way to ensure a strong Texas economy in the future. A 1995 study by New York University found that by age 27, children who had attended early education programs were earning more money, were more likely to graduate from high school and to own a home and less likely to receive help from social programs than other children.

"High quality early childhood programs can significantly improve the chances of lifelong success for our children," said Ellis. "Child care helps protect and nurture our next generation -- our state's future workforce."

For more information on Senator Ellis' child care initiatives, please call 512/463-0113.