Child Care & Early Learning Services - Program Overview

A teacher and three students doing an activity.

The child care services program provides financial aid (also known as subsidy) for child care to families who meet income requirements, promoting long-term self-sufficiency by enabling parents to work or attend education activities. This program strives to educate parents about the availability of quality child care, enhance children’s early learning, and support early learning programs working to improve the quality of child care services.

On this page:

Spotlight: Child Care Relief Funding 2022

In early 2022, TWC offered another round of the Child Care Relief Fund (CCRF) to help child care business build back strong and thrive in the post-pandemic economy! The CCRF 2022 was a one-time funding opportunity that offered a total of $3.4 billion for eligible child care providers.

To learn more, please see our page on the Child Care Relief Funds and view the status of applications and award amounts.

For questions, please contact CCReliefFunds@Trelliscompany.org.

 

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Texas Rising Star

About Texas Rising Star

The Texas Rising Star program is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for child care programs participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) child care program. Texas Rising Star is an excellent option for parents who are looking for high quality child care for their children. To learn more about Texas Rising Star and the services it offers parents, look through our brochure in EnglishPDF, SpanishPDF, or VietnamesePDF.

Texas Rising Star certification is available to regulated child care programs (centers and homes) that meet the certification criteria. Learn more about how child care programs can be a part of Texas Rising Star.

In 2021, the Texas legislature enacted legislation that requires all providers in TWC's Child Care Services program to participate in Texas Rising Star. TWC is currently implementing this new requirement through modifications to TWC's administrative rules and will be moving toward a mandatory Texas Rising Star program for the Child Care Services program.

Commonly Asked Questions:

What is a Texas Rising Star-certified program?

An early learning program that has an agreement to accept referrals from the TWC Child Care Services program and meets quality requirements that exceed the State’s Child Care Regulation minimum standards, receiving a certification level of Two-, Three-, or Four-Star.

How can I find a Texas Rising Star early learning program in my area?

The Texas Child Care Availability Portal helps match families that need child care with early learning programs that have available spots. While not all programs are Texas Rising Star-certified, Texas Rising Star-certified programs will show up higher on the search list. Parents can easily access information about early learning programs in their area that have current openings, which are updated on a weekly basis. In this portal, parents can also view:

  • Quality certifications and accreditations (Texas Rising Star-certified programs will have a unique indicator
  • Available spots by age
  • Links to the program’s licensing safety and health inspection reports and history

Additionally, The Parent’s Guide to Choosing Quality Child CarePDF can be used to assist you in starting your search, knowing what key questions to ask, look for signs of quality, and help guide you through the selection process.

How can I ask more questions about Texas Rising Star?

Do you have a question about the Texas Rising Star program? Use their contact form to get your answer! Your question will be received by local Workforce Solutions partners that serve your area of residence.

Texas Rising Star Four-Year Review

Every four years, TWC conducts a comprehensive review of the Texas Rising Star program. TWC’s most recent review was completed in 2021. To help inform the review, TWC established a Texas Rising Star workgroup. For more information on the most recent review, please visit the Texas Rising Star Workgroup webpage.

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Customers

The Texas Workforce Commission and its local Workforce Solutions partners serve parents and child care programs. The following sections are intended for parents and child care programs.

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Parents

The Texas Workforce Commission and its local Workforce Solutions partners offers many benefits to parents!

These benefits include:

  • Child Care Scholarships to access child care while you work or go to school
  • Access to programs that meet your needs
  • Options for a family member to care for your child
  • Access to workforce supports and other resources
  • Information about quality educational opportunities for your child to attend

Resources for Parents

Family Resources in Texas

To find support organizations and programs near you, visit Family Resources.

Child Care Scholarships (Financial Aid)

To find out how eligible families of children under the age of 13 may receive child care scholarships so that parents can work, attend school, or participate in training, visit Texas Child Care Solutions. If your child has a disability, visit Children with Disabilities for additional information on how the Child Care Services program may assist your child.

Texas Child Care Availability Portal

The Texas Child Care Availability Portal is a mapping search tool to help parents find child care. This also includes programs that are certified quality through Texas Rising Star, as well as their addresses, available seats by age, and links to their Child Care Regulation safety and health inspection reports and history.

Texas Child Care Solutions

Texas Child Care Solutions provides parents and child care providers access to resources and information to assist them in making informed choices to meet their child care and program needs.

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines follow child development and give teaching strategies for each of the guidelines. The new guidelines offer information and support to prepare all children for success in Kindergarten.

Texas Early Learning Guidelines

The Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year Old Learning Guidelines include important information about how to support your child’s development from birth through three years old.

Texas Rising Star Program

Children who attend high-quality early learning programs can make significant gains in their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Texas Rising Star certification helps parents know if a program is high quality. Texas Rising Star also offers many resources for parents of young children. Learn more about Texas Rising Star, by viewing the parent brochurePDF.

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Child Care Programs

The Texas Workforce Commission and its Workforce Solutions partners offer many benefits to both parents and child care programs!

These benefits include:

  • Ability for parents enrolled in the Child Care Services program to select your program
  • Ability to enroll in the Texas Rising Star certification program, a Quality Rating and Improvement System
  • Access to extensive training resources

Resources for Child Care Programs

Business Coaching, Funding, and other Business Resources

The Texas Workforce Commission is providing FREE business coaching and other resources to help your child care business. Learn more at www.childcare.texas.gov.

Skills for Small Business for Employers

Child care programs with fewer than 100 employees can apply to TWC Skills for Small Business program for training offered by their local community or technical college.  The purpose of the program is for small businesses to enhance their business operations by obtaining training needed to upgrade their new and current employee’s skills.  

The program reimburses up to $900 per existing employee and up to $1,800 per newly hired worker per 12-month period.  Training funded through the program is intended to enhance the performance of the entire business rather than advance an individual’s pursuit of a degree.  The program can reimburse providers for training opportunities such as:

  • Entry level certificates in Infant and Toddler or Preschool
  • Child Development Associate programs
  • Occupational skills courses
  • Required annual training by Child Care Regulation

Currently, there are 11 colleges participating in the Child Care Skills for Small Business program: Alamo Community College District, Angelina College, Austin Community College, Collin County Community College, Odessa College, Paris Junior College, San Jacinto College, South Texas College, Texas Southmost College, Vernon College, and Western Texas College.

Funding for child care programs is available through 2024.  For more information on the program, including how to apply, visit the TWC Skills for Small Business for Employers webpage, or email SkillsforSmallBusiness@twc.texas.gov.

Minimum Standards for Child Care

If you are regularly caring for children other than your own, you most likely need to be regulated with the State of Texas. Read the benefits of regulation, your different options for regulation, and what requirements are needed at the Child Care Regulation website, available in English or Spanish.

Participate in the State's Child Care Services Program

Whether you are a child care center, child care home, or if you are caring for a family member’s child, you can use the contact form on the Texas Child Care Solutions website to find out how to accept children who are in the Child Care Services program. You would be reimbursed by Workforce Solutions for caring for these children. Learn more about reimbursement rates available to child care programs, at Child Care Rates.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Texas Scholarship Program

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Texas Scholarship Program is a research based comprehensive strategy to educate and retain early childhood practitioners, positively impacting outcomes for the children in their care. To learn more and see if you are eligible, visit TXAEYC.

Texas Child Care Availability Portal

Advertise your child care program in the Texas Child Care Availability Portal, a mapping search tool to help parents find child care. To be sure you will show up more visibly on the map and higher in search results, regularly update your availability at Texas Child Care Availability Portal.

Texas Child Care Quarterly

Texas Child Care was a quarterly journal for early childhood educators that is no longer in publication. To read previous editions focused on varying early childhood topics, browse through their archives.

Texas Early Learning Guidelines

The Texas Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year Old Learning GuidelinesPDF include important information about how to support the development of the children you serve.

Texas Infant-Toddler Specialist Network

The Texas Workforce Commission has funded a statewide network supported by Children’s Learning Institute that is aimed at improving the quality of infant and toddler experiences in classrooms, particularly those in underserved communities. This network of early childhood specialists includes coaches, mentors, trainers, and other personnel who can support teachers that work with infants and toddlers. Learn more at Texas Infant-Toddler Specialist Network.

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines follow child development and give teaching strategies for each of the guidelines. The new guidelines offer information and support to prepare all children for success in Kindergarten. Learn more at Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.

Texas Rising Star Program

The Texas Rising Star program is a voluntary quality rating and improvement system for child care programs participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s Child Care Services program. Texas Rising Star certification is available to licensed centers and licensed and registered child care home facilities that meet the certification criteria. Learn more about registering your program with Texas Rising Star. Download the Texas Rising Star provider brochurePDF.

Texas Trainer Registry

The Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS) users have access to the Texas Trainer Registry, a statewide system that lists approved early childhood trainers and their trainings that child care programs can choose from. Learn more at TECPDS.

Texas Workforce Registry

The Texas Workforce Registry is a web-based application for early childhood professionals to keep track of all of their education and employment history, as well as the clock hours of training they have accrued. Learn more at Texas Workforce Registry.

Training Resources (Agrilife)

Choose from a variety of free and low-cost online courses that count as training hours for professional development for child care programs. Courses specifically for CDA Training and CDA Renewal are also available. Learn more at Agrilife.

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Child Care Quality Improvement

Texas Rising Star Logo

Texas Rising Star

The Texas Rising Star program offers three levels of quality certification (Two-Star, Three-Star, and Four-Star) to encourage child care and early learning programs to attain progressively higher levels of quality. These certification levels are tied to graduated enhanced reimbursement rates for children enrolled in the Child Care Services program. The statewide revenue calculator template for Texas Rising Star can help you determine your revenue at different levels of Texas Rising Star. Access the calculatorMS Excel.

Texas Rising Star Entry Level Designation

Texas Government Code, §2308.3155 requires all CCS child care and early learning programs be included in the Texas Rising Star program at an Entry Level designation and requires TWC to establish a maximum length of time (24-months) that a child care and early learning program can participate at Entry Level designation.

To qualify for Entry Level designation, a child care and early learning program must meet the minimum quality standards outlined below and will receive technical assistance and support under the Texas Rising Star program:

  • licensed or registered with CCR (may have an initial permit) or regulated by the United States Military;
  • not on Corrective or Adverse Action with CCR; and
  • meets the points threshold of 75 for high- and medium-high-weighted CCR deficiencies (based on a review of CCR licensing history within the most recent 12 months)

The timeline below shows the milestones during the 24-month Entry Level period for current CCS programs.

  • October 3, 2022                Determine if meeting Entry-Level designation
  • March 31, 2023                 Deadline for meeting Entry-Level designation
  • September 30, 2023        Screening review for initial star-level certification
  • March 31, 2024                 If not meeting Texas Rising Star certification, no new CCS family referrals
  • September 30, 2024        Deadline for attaining Texas Rising Star certification

The following documents and recorded webinar provides more information about Entry Level designation.

A family playing outside

Partnership Matching Grant Program

TWC’s Child Care Industry Partnership (CCIP) and Matching Investments for Child Care Quality Improvement (MICCQI) programs foster collaborations by supporting public-private investments in projects that improve the quality of child care and early learning. Learn more at Partnership Matching Grant Programs.


 

Teacher and students doing an activity together

Child Care and Public Prekindergarten Partnerships

A child care/pre-K partnership is a collaboration between a public-school pre-K program and one or more quality-rated child care programs to provide high-quality care and education to three- and four-year-old children. This is also called an “early learning partnership.” Texas Rising Star Three- and Four-Star certified programs are eligible for pre-K partnerships. Learn more at Public Prekindergarten Partnerships.
 

Texas Workforce Solutions LogoLocal Workforce Solutions Partners

A Local Workforce Solutions Partner, also identified as a Local Workforce Development Board, is a group of community leaders appointed by local elected officials and charged with planning and oversight responsibilities for workforce programs and services in their area. Learn more about the 28 boards in Texas on our Workforce Development Boards webpage.

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Stakeholder Input

Texas Workforce Commission Meetings

Stakeholders can learn about upcoming policy and funding decisions by virtually attending TWC’s three-member Commission meetings, which also offer the public an opportunity to provide input during any of its posted public meetings. To view meetings, agendas and materials, visit TWC Commission.

Additionally, the Commission works with staff to provide opportunities for:

  • child care and early learning stakeholders to offer input on the Child Care Services program
  • TEA, school districts, open-enrollment charter schools, relevant businesses, and the public to offer input on coordination between TWC's Child Care Services program and pre-K;
  • child care programs to offer input on existing health and safety regulations that could be more efficient or less costly without reducing health and safety outcomes; and
  • child care programs to offer input on burdens relating to complying with existing Child Care Services program regulations that could be mitigated, reduced, or eliminated while maintaining the intent, objective, or purpose of the underlying regulation.

TWC notifies stakeholders of opportunities to attend regional meetings and of other child care updates. Stakeholders interested in receiving updates should Sign up to receive workforce updates you can use by entering your email address and selecting the child care topic areas of their interest.

Stakeholders may also provide input to TWC’s Child Care and Early Learning Division at any time. Email: CC&EL Stakeholder Feedback.

Child Care Workforce Strategic Plan 

In 2021, Texas’ 87th Legislature passed House Bill 619, to amend Texas Labor Code §302.0062. Pursuant to the amended Texas Labor Code §302.0062, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) must prepare a strategic plan for improving the quality of the infant, toddler, preschool, and school-age child care workforce. TWC is partnering with the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs to conduct data collection and analysis and convene and facilitate input from a workgroup to assist in developing the strategic plan.  

TWC will deliver the final plan to the Legislature in December 2022.  

Strategic Plan 

The plan must include recommendations for: 

  • local workforce development boards to improve, sustain, and support the child-care workforce; 
  • increasing compensation for and reducing turnover of child-care workers; 
  • eliminating pay disparities in the child-care workforce; 
  • increasing paid opportunities for professional development and education for child-care workers, including apprenticeships; 
  • increasing participation in the Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System; 
  • public and private institutions of higher education to increase the use of articulation agreements with school districts and open-enrollment charter schools, and assist in the education and training of child-care workers; and 
  • for improving the infant and toddler child-care workforce. 

Additionally, the plan must include: 

  • best practices from local workforce development boards in this state and other programs designed to support child-care workers; and 
  • a timeline and benchmarks for TWC and local Workforce Solutions partners to implement recommendations from the strategic plan. 

Strategic Plan Workgroup 

Under state statute, the Child Care Workforce Strategic Plan must consider input from various stakeholders via a workgroup that consists of child care providers, community stakeholders, and child care workers. The following individuals have been nominated and selected to serve on the workgroup which will convene April through November 2022.

Strategic Plan Workgroup Members (in alphabetical order)

Name 

Organization/Business 

April Crawford, Ph.D  Co-Director at Children’s Learning Institute, UT Health Science Center 
Bethany Edwards  Director at Early Learning Alliance 
Carolyn Griffin  Owner of Grace Place Child Development Center 
Cathy McHorse  Vice President at Success by 6, United Way ATX 
Christina Hanger  Retired, previously CEO at Dallas Afterschool 
Cody Summerville  Executive Director at Texas Association for the Education of Young Children 
Cynthia Pearson  President and CEO at Day Nursery of Abilene 
Edna Diaz  Program Director at Alphabet Playhouse Too 
Ernestina Fauntleroy  Program Director at Abrahams Seed Daycare 
George Argullion Ovalle  Workforce Solutions Capital Area, Texas Rising Star Mentor
Gloria Marmolejo  Education Supervisor at Project Vida Early Childhood Center 
Heather Torres  Learning Center Director at Hope Lutheran Learning Center 
Jerletha McDonald  Founder and CEO at Arlington DFW Child Care 
June Yeatman  Early Childhood Educator at Austin Community College Children’s Lab School 
Katherine Abba, Ph.D.  Teacher Education/Child Development Faculty at Houston Community College 
Katherine Pipoly  Chief Operating Officer at Workforce Solutions Alamo
Kim Kofron  Director of Early Childhood Education at Children at Risk 
Lyn Lucas  Senior Vice President of Early Education and Program Evaluation at Camp Fire First Texas 
Melanie Johnson, Ed.D.  President and CEO at Collaborative for Children 
Melanie Rubin  Independent Policy Consultant; Director at North Texas Early Education Alliance 
Melissa Hoisington  President’s Council of the Texas Licensed Child Care Association 
Sheila Matthews  Director of Operations at Open Door Preschools 
Teresa Granillo, Ph.D  CEO at AVANCE 
Tim Kaminski  Co-Owner and Director of Gingerbread Kids Academy 
Tobitha Holmes  Owner and Director of W.I.S.E. Academy 
Tori Mannes  President and CEO at Child Care Group 
Tracy Anne Jones, Ed.D.  Assistant Director at Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System 

Director Survey:

Announcement: the Director Survey is in the field!

The Director Survey is a survey of 3,000 randomly selected child care programs across the state that will inform the Workgroup, and ultimately the strategic plan, on the demographics, wages, and qualifications of the child care workforce in Texas, as well as on the Directors’ experiences and opinions on the current needs and challenges in the industry. The survey was initially launched by email in mid-May and as of this June 3, 2022 all programs in the sample should have received a postcard with a personalized link and QR code to access the survey.

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Authority & Funding

Data

Child Care by the Numbers

TWC has developed Child Care by the Numbers, which provides both current information (for the most recent 15 months, which is updated quarterly), and historical information (back to 2015), on the Child Care Services program, including:

  • Number of children served in Texas Rising Star and in non-Texas Rising Star programs
  • Number of child care programs in TWC's Child Care Services program serving children both Texas Rising Star and non-Texas Rising Star

TWC publishes the following reports regarding the Child Care Services program's plans and activities:

TWC publishes the following reports regarding the Child Care Services program's reimbursement rates and parent share of cost:

Additionally, the Texas Early Learning Council has published the following reports: 

Child Care and Development Fund Annual Quality Progress Report (ACF-218)

The Administration for Children and Families uses the annual Quality Progress Report (QPR) to collect information from states to describe investments to increase access to high quality child care for children from birth to age 13. The annual data provided is used to describe state priorities and strategies to key stakeholders, including Congress, federal and state administrators, child care programs, parents, and the public.

Child Care and Development Fund Monthly Case-Level Report (ACF-801)

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Child Care (OCC) collects data regarding the children and families served through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). All CCDF lead agencies are required to report this data through the ACF-801 case-level data submission. TWC submits the ACF-801 to OCC 60 days after the end of each quarter of the federal fiscal year.

The following documents are formatted in Excel MS Excel.

2018 Reports

2019 Reports

2020 Reports

2021 Reports

Child Care Deserts

A child care desert is defined in Texas Labor Code §302.0461(b)(2)(A)(i) as an area where the number of children younger than six years of age who have working parents is at least three times greater than the capacity of licensed child care providers in the area.

Funding

New Child Care Funds from Federal Stimulus

 Board Texas Rising Star Supports Plans 

The following documents are formatted in ExcelMS Excel.

Administration for Children and Families Office of Child Care

The Office of Child Care supports low-income working families through child care financial assistance and promotes children's learning by improving the quality of early care and education and afterschool programs.

TWC Child Care & Early Learning Policy and Guidance

TWC’s Workforce Policy and Guidance webpage provides searchable access to Workforce Development Letters, Adult Education and Literacy Letters, and Technical Assistance Bulletins.

Child Care and Development Fund

Child Care Services is funded through the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Child Care. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is the lead agency for CCDF in Texas. Workforce Development Boards administer child care services through the Workforce Solutions offices. CCDF is authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act and Section 418 of the Social Security Act.

The Texas State Legislature allocates the majority of CCDF funds to TWC to provide direct child care services to eligible families and to support the improvement of child care quality across the state. TWC in turn allocates most of these dollars to the 28 Local Workforce Development Boards (Boards) to oversee service delivery. At the state level, funds are also directed to statewide initiatives to improve child care quality and to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to administer Child Care Regulation. Learn more at TWC's Financial & Grant Information webpage.

For more information on CCDF Final Regulations:

For more information on Sate Child Care-Related Regulations:

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