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Report Illustrates Complex System of State’s Early Childhood Revenue Sources

Early Childhood Education Funding

By Isobella Harkrider

Education advocates in Texas have long fought for more and better access to early childhood funding.

Though early education funding was a top priority for the Texas Legislature in 2019— especially after the loss of supplemental and grant funding for pre-K programs in 2017—a new report from EarlyLearningLab.org illustrates how the current revenue system creates a complex and often confusing path to distributing funds. 

State funding often supplements federal funding, in addition to grants, which means Texans rely on the system to work in tandem.

According to the report, here’s where the funding for four key areas comes from:

Head Start

In Texas, a total of 72,053 children are served through Head Start, a federal program, which provides early childhood education, nutrition and health services to low-income children and their families from birth to age five.

Here’s how it’s funded:

Federal funding is awarded to the state, which determines eligible vulnerable populations. The funding can be used for operations and professional development, quality improvement and technology. Grants also provide additional professional development and technology advances.

Federal funding includes $642,500,000 (FY18); with an additional $444,000 for American Indian and Alaska Native funding (FY18).

Pre-K

Texas’ pre-K is funded through the Foundation School Program (FSP) which requires districts to provide full-day pre-K to eligible 4-year-old students. It also serves English language learners and low-income students. 

Here’s how it’s funded:

School districts get money from two main sources: their local property taxes and the state. In 2019, an additional Early Education Allotment was created following the passage of HB3. As noted by the Texas Education Agency, the “Early Education Allotment…provides weighted funding for each student at the district in Kindergarten through third grade that also qualifies for the compensatory education or bilingual allotment.” 

In FY2018, 231,485 children benefit from $823.9 million dollars, used for operational expenses, professional development, quality improvement, and investments in technology.

Title 1 Preschool

Through the state’s Title 1, Part A program, the Texas Education Agency allows districts to utilize their Title 1 funds for “high concentrations of students from low-income homes” to help ensure all “children from low-income families have opportunities to meet challenging state assessments.” 

Here’s how it’s funded:

Although the data in the Early Learning Lab report is unavailable on exactly how many students benefit from Title 1 funding, the Texas Education Agency shares the funds may be allocated as supplemental “with a focus on performance standards of the Head Start Act.”

Impacting English as a Second Language Families

Texas has the fourth largest migrant program in the country. The state’s program enrolls a public school total of 5,000,000 students and also serves children from birth to age five. The Texas Education Agency’s website says that, “The Texas Migrant Education Program (MEP) helps migrant students overcome the challenges of mobility, cultural and language barriers, social isolation, and other difficulties associated with a migratory lifestyle.” 

Here’s how it’s funded:

$47.5 million is allocated to The Texas Migrant Education Program (MEP) with the House Bill 3 increased funding for Dual language immersion (DLI) programs to create changes in the funding formula to calculate the bilingual education allotment.

Nutrition 

The Texas Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  provides nutrition care to pregnant women, new mothers, and young children. With 498,974 children benefiting from the program that encourages eating well, learning about nutrition, and staying healthy to low-income families. 

To qualify for this benefit program “you must be a Texas resident, a pregnant, breastfeeding and/or postpartum woman; an infant or child up to 5 years of age; and determined by a health professional to be at nutrition risk.” The WIC serves families with an annual household incomes (before taxes) less than or equal to a family of four under $48,000.

Here’s how it’s funded:

WIC is federally funded with $436.5 million (FY18) going to state agencies to operate the program. Funds are used for food acquisition for eligible services, program operation and technology, along with a variety of other purposes.

Child Care Services Program

Without provisions for a child care program there is concern for families who are without any other options. Texas’ Child Care Services Program supplements childcare costs for low-income families and promotes “long-term self-sufficiency by enabling parents to work or attend workforce training or education activities.” 

Here’s how it’s funded:

The program is funded by the federal Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and “provides reimbursement to childcare providers for families receiving assistance.” The program serves over 130,000 children per year with federal funding of $747.2 million dollars to supply childcare financial assistance to families and support partnerships.

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