Improving Child Care Standards

Texas has some of the lowest standards for day care centers in the country. State lawmakers are considering bills to improve quality across Texas. In the meantime, some day care centers are already striving to achieve national standards. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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His Place Childcare Center is on a busy inner city corner, but stepping inside is like entering a home. Executive Director Hattie Robinson White has pictures from the care givers and the children's families.

"It's kind of our introduction to who lives here. So all of our families bring family portraits and our staff so when you walk in you will know you are welcome to our home."

His Place is one of the Bright Beginnings Day Care Centers. The goal is to improve the quality of child care centers. One way is through increased training for staff and incentives for them to pursue further education. Charity Whitworth's two children attend His Place. She sees how the teachers' educations affect the quality care now and potentially her children's future.

"One of the teachers here is in college and my daughter says when she grows up she's going to be like her and she's going to go to college like her, so I like that a lot."

United Way Community Investment Senior Director Amy Corron says Bright Beginnings began in the early 90s.

"What we shoot for with Bright Beginnings is a level equivalent to the national standards of accreditation. Those standards require a high level of education and experience in the teachers. They also require very low ratios of students to teachers. They have physical requirements for the classroom. They have requirements regarding parental involvement."

Some of what Bright Beginnings is already doing can be found in proposed legislation in Austin. Lawmakers are considering several bills to strengthen child care standards in the state. Currently a day care worker needs a high school diploma and eight hours training. Proposals would double that and increase continuing education. Collaborative for Children President Carol Shattuck...

"Also we are looking at developing a trainer registry so that those who are doing professional development in the field have the credentials in order to be able to do effective delivery of professional information and training for those in the field of childcare."

Some day cares have been dealing with stagnant funding.

"The reimbursement rates have been held flat for five or more years, so those that are trying to serve low income families have not been able to keep up with the cost for providing care given the flat reimbursement rates."

Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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