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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin city officials have outlined new criteria on the table to help expand affordable child care services citywide.

In a memo released Monday, city leaders released a list of proposed criteria for Austin City Council to consider. Back in early December, council approved a resolution centered on creating affordable, high-quality child care services.

As part of its efforts, city leaders collaborated with the Success By Six coalition members and the Early Childhood Council to help inform recommendations. Additional input from Workforce Solutions Capital Area staff, the city’s Economic Development Department, Financial Services Department – Real Estate and the Housing and Planning Department were also incorporated.

A child care service is one that offers full-day, year-round care within the city and “primarily or exclusively serves children birth to age 5,” under the city’s definition. These programs include both infants and toddlers who aren’t yet eligible to attend kindergarten.

City officials laid out the following criteria points for high-quality child care services:

  • The program is nationally accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs and/or other national accreditation entities recognized by the Texas Workforce Commission
  • The program has received a Texas Rising Star four-star quality rating
  • The program is an Early Head Start/Head Start program

Child care facilities must have 12 months’ worth of regulations history before they’re eligible for an assessment for the Texas Rising Star designation by a local workforce board. For child care programs at newly-developed locations, the city recommends the following considerations:

  • Whether the operator for a new site agrees to operate the program at high quality standards from day one (preferably based on NAEYC Standards) and, at least, does one of the following based on the Texas Rising Star four-star rating:
    • Achieves a Texas Rising Star four-star rating within 18 months of opening
    • Seeks national accreditation, preferably through NAEYC, within 18 months of opening

Affordable child care, as based on city definitions, is proposed to apply one or more of the following criteria:

  • Serves at least 10 children between the ages of birth and 5 who “receive Texas Workforce Commission childcare scholarships through the local workforce development board”
  • A minimum of 20% of children enrolled in the program receive Texas Workforce Commission child care scholarships through a local workforce development board
  • The program offers child care at no costs to families