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Child Care & Early Learning Services - Program Overview

A teacher and three students doing an activity.

The Child Care Services (CCS) program provides scholarships (also known as subsidies) for child care to families who meet income requirements, promoting long-term self-sufficiency by enabling parents to work, search for work, or attend education activities. The CCS program also strives to educate parents about the availability and characteristics of high-quality child care, to enhance Texas children’s early learning experiences, and to support child care and early learning programs working to improve the quality of their services.

On this page:

Spotlight: Texas Preschool Development Grant Birth Through 5

A woman reads a book to two toddlers.

Through the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through 5 (PDG B-5), the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services jointly with the Department of Education awarded Texas $16 million per year for a three-year period (2023-2025). Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the lead agency and fiscal agent, applied for these funds in partnership with fellow members of the Early Childhood Interagency Work Group, including Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Texas Education Agency, and Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

To learn more, visit the Texas PDG B-5 website.  

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Texas Rising Star

Texas Rising Star Logo

The Texas Rising Star program is a quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for child care programs participating in the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Child Care Services (CCS) program. Programs that attain certification in Texas Rising Star demonstrate a level of quality that exceeds Child Care Regulation minimum standards for child care.

Effective March 31, 2023, all child care programs serving children in the CCS scholarship program must participate in the Texas Rising Star program at least at the Entry Level. Additionally, child care programs that serve CCS children will need to attain star-level quality certification by September 30, 2024. More details are available on the Texas Rising Star website and in the following documents and webinars:

In addition to Entry Level, the Texas Rising Star program offers three progressive levels of quality certification – Two-Star, Three-Star, and Four-Star. These certification levels are tied to higher payment rates for children enrolled in the CCS program. TWC’s revenue calculator for Texas Rising Star can help child care providers determine their revenue at different levels of Texas Rising Star quality:

For child care programs: Texas Rising Star Revenue CalculatorMS Excel.

Texas Rising Star Four-Year Review

Every four years, TWC conducts a comprehensive review of the Texas Rising Star program. 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. TWC’s next review will begin in June 2023. More information on the 2023 review will be available online soon.

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Customers - Parents

The Texas Workforce Commission and local Workforce Solutions Offices provide many services that benefit parents, including the following:

Family Resources in Texas

To find support organizations and programs near you, visit the Family Resources section of earlychildhood.texas.gov.

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, search for 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 Rising Star – Child Care Programs Quality Rating

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 brochure, available in EnglishPDFEspañol PDF, and Tiếng ViệtPDF .

Find Child Care Nearby

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 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.

The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines follow child development for three- to five-year-olds and provide learning strategies to support children’s readiness in Kindergarten.

Customers - Child Care Programs

The Texas Workforce Commission and local Workforce Solutions Offices provide many services that benefit child care and early learning programs, including the following:

Texas Child Care Provider Cost of Quality Calculator

The Texas Child Care Provider Cost of Quality Calculator (PCQC) is a web-based tool that allows new, current, and prospective child care providers and other stakeholders to develop budget scenarios to help identify gaps between the cost of providing quality services and revenue available. This information can help inform the design of local quality improvement efforts and stakeholders to better understand the factors that influence costs and revenue. The Texas Provider Cost of Quality Calculator User Guide includes instructions on how to use the calculator.

Child Care Business Coaching

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 19 colleges participating in the Child Care Skills for Small Business program: Alamo Community College District, Angelina College, Austin Community College, Blinn College, Del Mar College, El Paso Community College District, Lone Star College System, Odessa College, Paris Junior College, San Jacinto Community College, South Plains College, South Texas College, Texas A&M Engineering Extension (TEEX), Texas Southmost College, Texas State Technical College – Waco, Tyler Junior College, Vernon College, Weatherford College of Parker County, and Western Texas College.

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. Additionally, you can access the Roadmap to Success which provides a pathway of resources that newly licensed and registered child care programs may need for a successful start as well as additional links to resources to support your staff, children, and families. The Roadmap to Success, which is available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, is located on the HHSC Child Care Regulation website under Application Information and Resources as well as in the TA Library.

Provide Child Care for Children with Scholarships

Licensed child care centers and registered and licensed child care homes may be eligible to provide child care to children receiving Child Care Services (CCS) scholarships (also known as “subsidies”). To learn more, use the contact form on the Texas Child Care Solutions website. Learn more about CCS scholarship 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.

The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines follow child development and give teaching strategies for each of the learning domains for children ages three through five that can help prepare them for success in Kindergarten.

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 Early Childhood Professional Development System

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

Additionally, TECPDS includes the Texas Workforce Registry – 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 the TECPDS 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.

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.

Work-Based Learning Staffing Initiatives

Work-based learning can help understaffed child care and early learning programs in many ways.  Child care programs can support high school or college students. One way is to let students gain experience in a child care classroom for their internship or practicum. Another way is by giving scholarships and support to child care teachers who are currently in school. This helps them continue their education while working. Another option is to create or join a Registered Apprenticeship Program. Visit the Work-Based Learning Staffing Initiatives to learn more.

Shared Services Alliances

Shared Services Alliances (SSAs) can be helpful for child care and early learning programs. They can help with business and pedagogical (teaching) problems. SSAs can help programs earn more money, spend less money, and improve quality by working with other programs.  To learn more visit Shared Services Alliances.

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Stakeholder Opportunities & Input

A family playing outside

Child Care Investments Partnership Program

TWC’s Child Care Investment Partnerships (CCIP) program fosters collaborations by supporting public-private investments in projects that improve the quality of child care and early learning. Learn more at Child Care Investment Partnerships.

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 Meetings.

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 by emailing: CC&EL Stakeholder Feedback.

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Authority & Funding

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 the Child Care and Development Fund (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 about funding at TWC's Financial & Grant Information webpage.


Texas Child Care & Development Fund State Plan:

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Data & Reports

Child Care by the Numbers

Child Care by the Numbers 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 data on participation in Texas Rising Star, the children served and settings they are served in, and the program’s overall footprint in the state.

Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Subsidized Child Care Program Reports to the Texas Legislature

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 every three years.  

On January 6, 2023, the Commission approved the Child Care Workforce Strategic Plan 2023-2025PDF

Pursuant to §302.0062, 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 2022 workgroup’s recommendations that informed the strategic plan are available here.

Rate Setting

The following reports support TWC’s annual process to evaluate and set Child Care Services reimbursement rates:

Income Limits and Parent Copays

Child Care Deserts Report

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.

Texas Early Learning Council

The following statewide reports were published by the Texas Early Learning Council in 2019. Texas was recently awarded a federal Preschool Development Grant which will support the updating of these reports in 2024. 

Local Board Child Care Quality (CCQ) Funds: Annual Plans and Quarterly Expenditure Reports

Texas Government Code §2308.317 requires that at least 2 percent of a Board’s annual Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) allocation be dedicated to activities that support quality improvement. In Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23), the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) three-member Commission increased this set aside to 4 percent of each Board’s annual allocation. Boards are required to submit an annual plan and quarterly expenditure reports for these funds.

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 reports for 2018 through 2021 are formatted in ExcelMS Excel. More recent reports are available from the Texas Open Data Portal.

2018 Reports 2019 Reports 2020 Reports 2021 Reports

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