For this weekly feature, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) profiles a noteworthy bill that is currently going through the legislative process. The bill may relate directly to TCDD’s Public Policy Priorities or another disability-related issue.
Bill: House Bill (HB) 168, relating to the regulation of child care facilities and registered family homes providing services to children with disabilities or special needs.
Bill Author: Rep. Mary González, House District 75 (El Paso)
What does the bill do?
HB 168 seeks to ensure that children with disabilities are not discriminated against in day care placement, and that providers are better equipped to serve this population.
Under the terms of the bill, HB 168 would prohibit child care facilities and licensed family homes from discriminating based on disability status and ensure that they promote inclusive practices and integrate children with special needs into the general activities of the facility. It would also mandate that early childhood intervention (ECI) service providers have access to children with disabilities in attendance to provide services while the children are at the facility.
The bill would modify the initial training requirements for day care employees to also include child mental health training that addresses social and emotional learning, positive behavior interventions and supports, trauma-informed care, and a section on providing care to children with special needs. Annual training standards would be expanded to include a two-hour component on caring for children with special needs, including identification of developmental delays, methods for referring children with special needs for specialized services, and information on ECI and preschool programs for children with disabilities.
Lastly, HB 168 would enhance facilities’ written disclosure requirements to parents or guardians of children with disabilities and require additional reporting to the licensing agency when a child is suspended or expelled.
Statement from the bill author, Rep. Mary González:
“We know that when we create a more inclusive classroom, all students benefit. All teachers need the tools to work with kids with disabilities and all students deserve an accessible educational environment.”
Where is the bill in the process?
On Nov. 9, 2020, HB 168 was pre-filed for the 87th regular session. Since committee assignments have yet to be named, the bill is currently waiting to be referred.
Who supports the bill and why?
The following comments were taken from an April 23, 2019 public hearing on a bill identical to HB 168:
- Easterseals: Jolene Sanders, advocacy manager for Easterseals Central Texas, testified enthusiastically in support of the bill. She noted that accommodations to individuals with disabilities are provided in the workplace, in the community, through transportation, and in our public schools, but such accommodations are not provided across the board for children during the most rapidly developing years of their lives. Sanders stressed the importance of the bill’s training requirements in pre-service and annual professional development, which would support not just the children in care but also the providers in how to work with the children. She noted that inclusion benefits all children, not just children with disabilities, and promotes the social and emotional well-being of non-disabled peers.
- Open Door Preschools: Laura Griebel, vice-chair of the board of directors for Open Door Preschools, also testified in support. She suggested that being a parent of a child with disabilities is hard enough, and that selecting a child care facility should not be one of the many barriers that these families will face. Griebel indicated that the bill would help to ensure that all child care providers are equally equipped and required to provide an environment that is free of discrimination based on disability. “All children deserve caregivers that have been adequately trained, and all parents deserve to be treated as partners by honoring their perspectives and following the written instructions and directives specific to their child’s unique needs,” she said.
Who opposes the bill and why?
The organization Texas Values Action registered against the identical bill in 2019, but did not provide testimony as to the nature of its opposition.
How much will the bill cost?
In 2019, the Legislative Budget Board found that a bill identical to HB 168 would have no significant fiscal impact to the state.
Is there a Senate companion to the bill?
No identical bill has been filed in the Senate.
- SB 262 by Sen. José Menéndez would prohibit discrimination based on disability in child care facilities and registered family homes and require annual training on care provided to children with special needs.
For the latest information about where HB 168 is in the process, follow the bill on the Texas Legislature Online. To receive future legislative updates from TCDD, subscribe to TCDD eNews or follow us on Twitter.