Early Education / Access to Child Care Creates Economic Mobility

New Data Show A Decade Of Growth In Dallas County

Early Education

Access to Child Care Creates Economic Mobility

Early childhood education is a critical component of achieving our True North Goal of increased living wage attainment among young adults in Dallas County, and it starts with expanding access to high-quality care and education for children aged 5 and younger.

While the connection between the two may seem distant, high-quality child care and early learning programs have a direct impact on economic mobility in two key ways. One, students with access to strong early learning opportunities are more likely to succeed in later grades and go on to earn postsecondary credentials later in life. According to the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employer Research, participation in high-quality early childhood education “can increase a child’s future adult earnings by over 25 percent.”

More immediately, the availability of trusted, affordable child care allows young parents greater educational and employment opportunities. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over a third of Texas parents surveyed “needed to make adjustments to their education due to child care issues.” More than one in 20 reported leaving the workforce entirely for the same reason.

These "child care issues” not only decrease the wage-earning potential of individual families but also diminish our state’s entire economy, a loss estimated by the Council for a Strong America to be as large as $11.4 billion a year. Conversely, data from the Texas Workforce Commission demonstrates that over 70% of job seekers with access to state-funded child care in Dallas County successfully secured work within three months. This is why organizations such as the U.S. Chamber and Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) play increasingly active roles in advocating for more options for parents and families.

At the DRC’s recent State of Early Education event, State Rep. Angie Chen Button put it clearly: “Early childhood development is much more than just a family issue. It is a labor issue, it’s an economic development issue... It takes a whole community to raise a child... and it takes everybody's creative ideas to make it work.”

One of the "creative ideas" to emerge from last year’s legislative session was Proposition 2, a state constitutional amendment enabled by Senate Bill 1145, authored by State Sen. Royce West and sponsored by Rep. Button, among others. The ballot measure, which passed with the support of nearly two-thirds of Texas voters last year, allows counties and municipalities to waive property taxes for child care providers at rates from 50 to 100%.

This leading approach (one of the first of its kind among American states) provides local governments a tool to significantly reduce operating costs for child care providers, which are already operating on extremely tight margins. These cost savings can then be put toward growing capacity, increasing educator salaries and reducing the cost to parents.

Last month, Dallas became one of the first cities in the state to pass the full 100% reduction in municipal property taxes for child care providers beginning next year. We are grateful to our mayor and city council for their unanimous support for this important step, as well as all our local legislators who helped make this solution a reality in our community.

Our organization hopes that, in the coming weeks and months, other municipalities in Dallas County, as well as our county commissioner’s court, will take this step to ease the cost burden of child care providers. By doing so, they will help expand access to affordable, high-quality care.

It is also our hope that state leaders, guided by the new insights illuminated in the Texas Early Learning Council’s recent Early Childhood System Needs Assessment, continue crafting creative solutions for early education programs that support our workforce as well as our youngest learners. As Dallas City Council Member Jaynie Schultz asked in that same DRC event:

“What are the systemic changes that we can make and embed permanently in our efforts around this?... We have to look at this systemically and build into it permanent changes that have the flexibility for times that change. The system itself needs to be reimagined to be resilient.”

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