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The Alliance for Early Success has two principal grantees in Texas. Children at Risk serves as a catalyst for change to improve the quality of life for children. Through its research and advocacy programs, they are a leader in understanding the health, safety and economic indicators impacting children, and educating public policy makers about their importance in improving the lives of children. Texans Care for Children is a statewide, nonpartisan, multi-issue children’s policy organization. They develop policy solutions, produce research, and engage community leaders to educate policymakers, the media, and the public about what works to improve the well-being of Texas children and families.

2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 43% (1,512,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 49% (1,756,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: Moderate

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the state’s fiscal 2024-2025 biennial budget on June 18. The budget approved by the legislative conference committee provides $321.3 billion in all funds over the biennium, an increase of 5.95 percent from the 2022-2023 biennium. The budget allocates $144 billion in general revenue funds over the biennium, an increase of 10.5 percent over the 2022-2023 biennium; general revenue -dedicated funds decrease 14.8 percent to $6.8 billion.3

Largest FY 2021 Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers):4

    • Property Taxes: $2,242 per capita
    • General Sales Taxes: $1,696 per capita

Texas does not levy an individual income tax or corporate income tax but does have a gross receipts tax. (Census counts this revenue as either general sales tax revenue or selective sales tax revenue.). 

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  One

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

Texas lawmakers finally passed, after three legislative sessions, 12 months postpartum coverage for moms enrolled in Medicaid benefitting over 120,000 Texas moms and babies. There were also significant budget increases (more than $60M) to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) and Prevention and Early Intervention programs (more than $65M) including home visiting. While they did not boost child care funding, there was a robust discussion about the need for state investment to build upon.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

One of the top accomplishments of the Legislature this session was passing 12-month postpartum health coverage. About half of pregnant women in Texas receive their health coverage through Medicaid. This session, the Legislature finally passed HB 12 to allow moms to keep their health coverage. The final version of the bill that passed the Legislature offers the extension to everyone enrolled in Medicaid for Pregnant Women with no limitations based on the outcome of the pregnancy.

Recognizing that Texas had a historic $33 Billion budget surplus and the federal COVID relief dollars were ending, we made a bold decision to ask for $2.29 Billion of state dollars for child care. A historic House Budget Rider for the full amount was placed in Article XI but removed from final budget. We provided testimony in both the House and Senate Finance Committees and had numerous conversations with both parties about the State’s responsibility to invest into the child care system.

SB 1145/SJR 64 will make it permissible for local tax authorities to give 50-100% of property tax relief to child care programs providing care for at least 20% of their enrollment to children utilizing the child care scholarship program through Texas Workforce Commission. These bills do require a Constitutional Amendment therefore will be on the November general election ballot to all Texas voters. This historic vote will be the first time Texans vote on child care.

This was also a positive legislative session for ECI services for toddlers with disabilities after previous state cuts reduced per-child funding for the program. The Legislature included a $57 million increase in the initial draft of the state budget and then added an extra $6 million on top of that through a budget amendment in April. As a result, the state will provide $448 per enrolled child next year and $445 the following year, compared to $434 this year.

The Legislature approved a significant increase in child abuse prevention services including home visiting programs, providing an additional $65 million to connect over 20,000 additional families with evidence-based services over the next biennium.

The C.R.O.W.N. Act, House Bill 567, will create a process to prevent combat and reduce hair discrimination among all people in all workplaces and academic settings throughout the state of Texas. The C.R.O.W.N. Act will reduce the likelihood that people, and especially Black people, are removed from their workplaces or schools due to discrimination and attitudes toward their hairstyles.

HB 1599 passed the House but did not make it out of the Senate. It would have created a “express lane option” to address the too high uninsured rate of children in Texas allowing HHSC to use already-verified information – such as income, household size, and citizenship – from other state programs to move verified, currently eligible kids from bureaucratic gridlock to an “express lane” for enrollment in Medicaid health insurance or CHIP.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantees in Texas, Children at Risk and Texans Care for Children, are working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Preschool and Pre-K

K-3rd Grade

Child and
Maternal Health

Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)

Family
Supports

Child Welfare

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Financing

Click here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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