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: 2021 Child Care Relief Funding

  • If you applied for Child Care Relief Funds before July 31, 2021, be sure to request your funding by November 30, 2021!
  • These funds can be used to reimburse the child care program for expenses. Keep your receipts!
  • Free business coaching is available to all regulated child care programs in Texas!
  • Learn more about Child Care Relief Funds

 

 

 

Return to Top

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 English PDF, Spanish PDF, or Vietnamese PDF.

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 Childcare PDF 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 this contact form to get your answer! Your question will be received by local Workforce Solutions partners that serve your area of residence.

Return to Top

Customers

The Texas Workforce Commission and its local Workforce Solutions partners serve parents and child care programs. Please see your relevant section below:

Return to Top

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 brochure PDF.

Return to Top

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.

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 contact us 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 Guidelines PDF 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 brochure PDF.

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.

Return to Top

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 calculator MS Excel.

A family playing outside

Child Care Industry Partnership

The Child Care Industry Partnership (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 Industry Partnership.


 

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 at Workforce Development Boards.

Return to Top

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 at: CC&EL Stakeholder Feedback

Return to Top

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:

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.

Funding

New Child Care Funds from Federal Stimulus

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 page 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 Texas Workforce Commission Financial & Grant Information.

For more information on CCDF Final Regulations:

For more information on Sate Child Care-Related Regulations:

Return to Top