Testimony on SB 260 to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee

April 05, 2011

Senate Health and Human Services Committee
SB 260 by Senator West

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by federal law in the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act and consists of a 27 member board, appointed by the Governor, 60% of which are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. The Council’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.

SB 260 would amend the minimum training standards for employees and directors by increasing the number of training hours and requiring facility orientation for new employees. All Texas children, including children with disabilities, have the right to be cared for in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment that prepares them for the arrival of kindergarten and beyond. In 2005, 61 percent of children from birth through age six (and not in kindergarten) spent time in a non-parental child care.1 In order to provide for future generations, families must have access to quality and accessible child care.

SB 260 would increase initial training hours from 8 to 16 hours. Current standards require that caregivers complete only eight hours of pre-service training. Pre-service training is given to a person who has no previous experience in professional child care and no relevant training in specific topics. Minimum standards state that a caregiver must be 18 years old and only require a high school diploma or equivalent. Increasing the amount of pre-service training hours can mean the difference in quality child care for the 1.2 million Texas children under the age of six in day care. Children who receive high-quality learning experiences show positive outcomes for their later development stages. Increasing the pre-service hours allows the caregivers to concentrate on training areas which focus more on the cognitive, physical and emotional well being of children in day care programs. Ensuring that children get a good start in life and a parent keeping a job is essential for the wellbeing and future of our children.2

SB 260 would increase annual training for caregivers and directors. The significance of annual training for caregivers is critical given the amount of time many children spend in child care. The average amount of time a child under six years old is in child care can vary depending on a parents work schedule. However, some children spend up to 45 hours a week in child care. Child care can be the first point of entry for a child into a setting away from their home. Caregivers need the additional training hours to be able to assess child development. In some situations it is caregivers who first observe child development delays if trained properly. Increasing the annual training to 17 hours for each employee and 30 hours for directors will allow for caregivers and directors to keep up to date with current information and strategies which will enhance their knowledge.

In Texas caregivers are not required to have to have a college degree in order to care for children. By requiring additional annual pre-service and in-service training hours, child care facilities can supplement the lack of formal child development training of caregivers so that they fully understand the needs of children and their developmental needs.

Respectfully Submitted,
Cassie Laws-Fisher
Public Policy Specialist
(512) 437-5432