Early Childhood Indicators:Pre-K Capacity Children in Childcare Pre-K Impact
Texas childcare licensing requirements and standards are minimal, contributing to a lack of quality experiences and school readiness for children up to five years old. As a result, many young children arrive in kindergarten or first grade unprepared and struggle to catch up. Some never do. Child care workers are required to have only a high school education, or a GED, and 24 hours of pre-service training plus 24 hours of annual continuing education – less than a hairdresser. Meanwhile, decades of research show that high-quality early education can close the achievement gap before kindergarten. Resources for high-quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) generate a 7-10% annual return on investment (ROI), including increased high school graduation rates. High-quality ECE affords the individual an opportunity to build skills and learning over a lifetime. Participation in high-quality ECE is definitive: children are better prepared for school, are less likely to be retained, have a greater likelihood of graduating from high school, and are more apt to enroll in and complete college or career-training. Quality ECE raises the odds of having a skilled workforce and citizenry that contribute to the economy and quality of life in the Houston region.
Early childhood education is not governed by a single system in our region — it is offered through a variety of systems, each created to meet different needs. As a result, these systems have varying standards of performance:
•HeadStart, launched in 1965, was designed to reduce the impact of poverty on young children and their families. Its focus is on school-readiness as well as family financial security, physical/mental health and dental care for children.
•The child care system was developed over many years to support working families and focuses primarily on safety and health, with varying less attention paid to the educational environment.
•Pre-Kindergarten, established in Texas public schools in 1984, focuses on academic and social-emotional development designed to close the achievement gap of low-income children and those at risk of low school achievement. Pre-K classrooms have a strong curriculum, including literacy, math, and science as well as how to interact with other children.