TAEYC LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR 2013
As Texas AEYC prepares to enter the 83rd Legislative session this January, we are working hard to make sure the voices of Texas’ smallest citizens and our members are heard at the State Capitol. We know that this political season will not be any different from years past: Texas won’t have any extra money to spend; they will fight not to raise taxes and at the same time, try to do what’s best for all of our citizens. But what is best for our youngest citizens?
TAEYC has two priorities for the session as well as several areas we are lending support to this session:
- Securing State funding for T.E.A.C.H. so everyone across the state can have access to higher education. T.E.A.C.H. is an effective strategy thorough its use of four key elements: Scholarships, Education, Compensation and Commitment. While we have only had this program in our state for almost two years, it is already showing impressive outcomes. In our first year, we awarded 20 Child Development Associate (CDA) Assessment Fee Scholarships with 18 of those earning their CDA credential. In 2011 we awarded 24 Associate degree scholarships who collective earned 154 credit hours of college credit with a 3.15 grade point average. However, current funding limits the availability of scholarship we can provide. Texas AEYC will be advocating for $500,000 per year ($1,000,000 per biennium) to provide a sustainable funding source so ANYONE who needs a CDA or wanted to study early childhood education can have that opportunity. T.E.A.C.H. is making a difference not only for our workforce, but for the children in their care who reap the benefits of a well qualified teacher. To learn more about T.E.A.C.H. and read some of the testimonials, click here.
- Increase in reimbursement rate for subsidized providers. Quality, compensation, and affordability are the three basic provisions NAEYC has determined dictate high-quality early childhood programs. As such, we know that higher qualified teachers and directors are vital to all child care programs across the State. TAEYC supports this through T.E.A.C.H. and higher reimbursement rates for providers. Reimbursement rates should reflect the child care market rate. While some Workforce Development Boards are closer to meeting this goal, there are many far from this goal. With the cost of doing business continuing to go up, we fear many programs will choose not serve our low-income families receiving subsidized child care. In fact, we are seeing a trend where high quality programs simply cannot afford to serve subsidized children. Why should our neediest children not have the same quality of care as those who can afford to pay for it? TAEYC plans to partner with other Early Childhood organizations to come together with one voice to the Capitol to insure our message is heard.
AREAS OF SUPPORT
- Support the work done by the Texas Early Learning Council toward the development and implementation of a statewide Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The state should recognize this invaluable work and continue to build a QRIS system for Texas through dedicated funding so the state’s early childhood workforce can continue to provide the much-needed services for working parents while supporting the overall economy of our great state.
- Support current funding and restore funding cuts from the 82nd Legislature for ECI to meet the needs of all Texas children with disabilities and/or developmental delays. Investments in quality early education reduce health and human service costs for all Texans. Families that cannot access early education programs or have no choice but to enroll in a low quality program are at greater risk. They typically need a wide-range of social services and their child(ren) are more likely to enter Kindergarten behind, by up to two years.
- Support the continued funding of the Texas School Ready! Project under Article III, Rider 54 and Article VII, Rider 29. Now in its 8th year of operation, the project has, to date, increased academic and social school readiness outcomes for 350,000 children in Texas through four evidence-driven components: research-based curriculum, technology-driven child progress monitoring, facilitated on-line professional development, and ongoing mentoring to improve teacher effectiveness.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (Texas AEYC) seeks to improve early childhood education in Texas by supporting members to be effective early childhood advocates and by collaborating with other agencies to promote public policies that address the needs of young children and their families.
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Visit your state representative and share with him your personal story about these two issues. To find out who represents you visit the Texas Legislative Online (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/) and enter your address in the “Who Represents Me” section. .If you are unfamiliar with how all this works, we recommend you visit the Legislative Process section.
Please send a thank you note to your legislators for the work on early childhood issues. session. Better yet, send a children’s book with a picture of your children or a child care center’s children attached to the front page. Thank them for making the early years a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning. Texas will be strong when all our children grow strong from their very first breath and all the years to come.
Make sure to sign up for Texas AEYC updates if you have not already. Texas AEYC sends out action alerts to keep you up to speed with important advocacy issues facing early educators and administrators in the state of Texas. You can sign up here.
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!
Provide a comment below on how low reimbursement rates, low teacher qualifications or any other issue has impacted your ability to provide the best quality care for children. Children are our future…don’t they deserve the best we can give them?