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Summary: The Texas Early Learning Council was established in 2009 to make recommendations on how to improve pre-k education and other early childhood services. The Texas Rising Star Program is a voluntary, quality-based child-care rating system. It provides reimbursements to child care providers that offer their services to children who would be otherwise unable to afford the care. HB 376 codifies the program into law. HB 376 tasks a work group to update the Rising Star Program and recommend changes which interested parties feel will add to the efficiency and quality of the program. The program has been and will continue to be funded by a federal block grant and uses no state money.
Analysis: HB 376 would improve the quality of the Rising Star Program in Texas. This legislation neither creates the program nor funds it. The program already exists within the Texas Workforce Commission and is funded by the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant. This is a voluntary program in which child care providers may participate. These providers offer discounted child care rates to low income parents and receive a federal subsidy to make up for some of the discounted rate. As a precondition for taking the subsidy, the provider agrees to some regulation that nonsubsidized providers would not be subject to. This is to ensure that taxpayer funds are being used effectively and for their intended purpose.
HB 376 helps make the Texas Rising Star Program more effective by establishing a rating system and tying the subsidy reimbursement rate to the provider's star quality rating. Higher rated providers will receive higher reimbursement rates. This creates an incentive for program participants to improve the service they provide, and subsequently improve the level of care the children receive. While our analysis does not comment on the value or necessity of the program itself, we recognize that HB 376 will make the program more effective and raise the level of care given. We support HB 376.