Child care centers in Texas are facing a looming deadline to earn the Texas Rising Star certification by October 2024. Failure to meet this requirement could result in the loss of critical funding for 350 facilities in the San Antonio area. This could have detrimental effects on low-income families who rely on this financial support to afford child care services.
While the Texas Rising Star certification itself is not new, the mandate for centers to obtain it is. Any facility that receives child care subsidies must now be certified by the specified deadline. The process to achieve this certification is currently underway, with the assistance of a new partnership that is serving as a model for other communities.
Tylane Barnes, CEO and Director of Converse Christian School and Early Learning Center, expressed concerns about the impact of this mandate on center owners. Some have already stated their intention to close their centers, despite serving a significant number of children, upwards of 200 in some cases.
Converse Christian School and Early Learning Center, which serves 109 students ranging from two months to 12 years old, heavily relies on financial assistance to provide a quality learning environment. Approximately 70% of their students receive childcare subsidies, 20% receive subsidies from the military, and only 10% are private paid parents.
The center has already earned the Texas Rising Star certification for the fifth year. This certification is obtained by meeting specific criteria, including teacher training requirements, curriculum, learning environments, teacher-child interactions, and licensing. Barnes believes that the strong foundation provided by their center has contributed to the success of their students, who are now in gifted and talented classes in high school.
The mandate put into place by the Texas Workforce Commission in 2022 aims to ensure that all children in the state have access to the best learning environments and a strong start in life. Liza Gomez, Vice President of the Ready Children Impact Council for United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, emphasized the importance of early childhood development, stating that 90% of the brain is developed before the age of five.
Becoming Texas Rising Star-certified can be a time-consuming process for child care centers, taking months to complete. However, each facility has the opportunity to receive individualized coaching to prepare them for the state assessor’s evaluation. Currently, only 33% of child care centers receiving funding have obtained the Texas Rising Star certification, leaving 67% at risk of losing their funding in Bexar County.
To support child care centers in meeting the deadline, a new partnership called “Alamo Quality Pathway” has been formed between Workforce Solutions Alamo, Region 20, and United Way. Mentors and coaches will guide these centers throughout the process, serving as a blueprint for other Texas communities seeking to assist their own child care community.
Barnes reassures center owners that resources are available, such as Texas Rising Star mentors and United Way, which will provide guidance and support throughout the certification process. Child care facilities can initiate the certification process by contacting their previously assigned Texas Rising Star mentor.
For families seeking affordable and quality child care, United Way’s 24/7 helpline can be reached by dialing 2-1-1. Assistance is also available in Spanish, ensuring that families have access to the help they need.