Texas business groups announce child care task force

Today, the Texas Restaurant Association, Early Matters Texas, the Texas Association of Business and Texas 2036 announced the launch of a business task force, Employers for Childcare, to develop strategic public policy solutions for the Texas Legislature to consider in 2025 to expand working families’ access to affordable, high-quality childcare. In 2021, the U.S. Chamber Foundation found that Texas’ economy loses over $9 billion every year due to inadequate childcare. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on providers, leaving childcare deserts in over half of Texas counties.

“While the Texas Legislature has adopted some positive childcare reforms in recent years, the state’s overall childcare environment has worsened,” Kelsey Erickson Streufert, chief public affairs officer of the Texas Restaurant Association, said. “As a result, the scarcity of affordable, high-quality programs is devastating Texas’ workforce today and into the future. It’s time for private employers to lead on this issue because childcare is an economic imperative.”

Only half of Texas’ students qualify as kindergarten-ready, and just 48% read on grade level by the end of third grade. Students who are not reading proficiently by third grade are four times less likely to graduate high school, worsening Texas’ existing workforce shortages.

The Texas Restaurant Association, Early Matters Texas, the Texas Association of Business and Texas 2036 will serve as the executive committee of the task force, which is actively recruiting members from many different sectors of the business community. For example, Texas Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s largest workers’ compensation provider, has pledged its support for finding solutions to expand affordable, high-quality childcare. Recruitment will continue through the spring of 2024 as the task force gathers feedback, studies different childcare models, and reviews best practices in and outside Texas. Utilizing those findings and data, the group will work through fall 2024 to develop a comprehensive policy agenda. Then the task force will advocate for adoption of these policy reforms during Texas’ 89th Regular Legislative Session that begins in January 2025.

“Having the voice of the business community is key to developing and passing non-partisan policy in childcare,” Wendy Uptain, director at Early Matters Texas, said. “We believe the unique skill sets and reputations of our executive committee, coupled with the brainpower of this taskforce, will appeal to leaders at the capitol and demonstrate a willingness to work together on solutions to this longstanding problem. With a state as big as Texas, we can no longer work in silos on a vital issue that directly impacts our economy and workforce.”

The task force also plans to engage a diverse group of childcare providers and advocacy nonprofits to ensure recommended policy solutions will address the wide array of childcare needs.

To learn more about the Employers for Childcare task force, click here.

Additional quotes for attribution

“We are proud to join together with other leading advocates throughout the state to make sure our state’s leaders understand the critical importance of enhancing childcare options in strengthening our state’s workforce, job creation and – most importantly – the foundation for a brighter future for all Texas children,” said Glenn Hamer, president & CEO of the Texas Association of Business (TAB).

“The data is clear – the price of childcare continues to rise,” said director of government affairs at Texas 2036 Hope Osborn. “Daily market rates have risen 10.1% between 2022 and 2023, building on years of previous increases. To meet the needs of the current and future workforce, Texas needs to adapt to a changing market.”

“No one should have to sacrifice their career because they can’t find affordable, high-quality childcare,” Julia Liebelt, senior vice president of human resources for Fertitta Entertainment, said. “It’s imperative employers work together to recommend policies that will benefit the families of our most important asset, our employees.”