AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Joe Biden will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday when he will unveil a plan to provide universal Pre-K access and capped childcare costs for American families.
Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan includes Pre-K education for 3 and 4-year-olds, as well as direct support to low and middle-income families to limit the cost of child care at 7% of income.
In Texas, there are 123,000 more low-income children than available subsidized childcare seats, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Children At Risk.
“If my kids, starting at 3-years-old can access universal Pre-K, I’m in full support of that,” said Melissa Vazquez, a mother whose two children attend subsidized childcare at Bright Beginnings in northeast Austin. “I think every child deserves a great education, especially if they can start early.”
The Texas Legislature approved historic funding for public schools in 2019, including free Pre-K for 4-year-olds who qualify based on family income or various learning impairments. School districts must use local funds, however, to provide Pre-K education to 3-year-olds.
Jennifer Cavazos Saenz, senior director of strategic initiatives at E3 Alliance, an education equity organization in Austin, estimated universal Pre-K access for 3 and 4-year-olds would otherwise require the state to double or triple the investment from three years ago.
“That investment that early on could be a lot of money, but it’s absolutely worth it when we look at the long-term need for intervention, the need for remediation, the need for tutoring,” she said.