Let our leaders know: Austin children are an important investment

Other communities are outpacing us in early childhoodIn Greater Austin, low-income children are our fastest growing demographic and before they even get to school, they are falling behind. Our community is also falling behind in the level of public support we provide to vulnerable children – investing as little as one tenth of what comparable cities are spending.

Right now, UWATX’s Success By 6 team is leading a community-wide advocacy effort on behalf of our youngest and most economically vulnerable children and families. We’ve already met with 9 leaders and plan to visit 3 more in the coming weeks to share our message about the importance of the first years.

We’ve created a dashboard to highlight key data about this growing challenge as well as specific policy recommendations for the City and County. Beyond one budget cycle or legislative session, we are working to make early childhood a civic priority for our community.

Between now and March 1st, as we meet with City Council members and County Commissioners, you too can lend your voice.

Share this post or any of these links with your social networks and tag our community leaders to spread the word.

You can also contact our community’s leaders via phone or email and let them know that early childhood matters to you. We’ve crafted this template as a starting point:

Dear [NAME] –

As a concerned resident of Austin/Travis County, I believe that every child in our community has potential. Yet too many of our youngest and poorest children do not enter Kindergarten ready to succeed. As a community leader, I urge you to make young children a priority and invest in the future of Greater Austin.

Research has demonstrated that children who start school behind tend to stay behind. Children who do not enjoy quality early experiences do not have the chance to live up to their potential – and this costs our City and County. For every child who enters school unprepared, Austin spends more money on remedial education, social services, and criminal justice. On the other end of the spectrum, school readiness leads to higher graduation rates and increased tax revenue.

Thank you for your past support on children’s issues. As you consider your priorities for the upcoming budget cycle, I urge you to increase long-term, sustainable funding for early childhood programming. Any new funding should be used to:

      1. Increase the number of high-quality subsidized child care slots for vulnerable families.
      2. Increase funding for research-based services providing family support prenatally and during the first few years of life for parents at risk in our community.
      3. Support robust Head Start and Early Head Start programs in our community.

I am proud to live in Austin. However, for our community to continue to thrive, we must invest in our future. Please increase funding for research-based early childhood services to make that future brighter for our must vulnerable children and our whole region.


[your name]

Elected Official Contact Information

City Council:

County Commisioners:

Other key officials:


1. American Community Survey data 

2.Public investments in early childhood – UWATX analysis based on:

    • 2011 and 2013: Ron Hubbard, Early Childhood Coordinator City of Austin – HHSD
    • Other cities – combination of city/county budgets found on public websites and personal communication with the appropriate city personnel. Please contact Sue Carpenter, Sr. Director, Success By 6 at 512-382-8608 for full documentation.
    • San Antonio, St. Paul, Seattle, and Portland have dedicated tax levies for children’s services. In 2012, San Antonio and St. Paul passed new tax levies specifically for early childhood, which will generate large funding pools for exemplary preschool programs. In Seattle and Portland, the tax is for all children and youth services. For this infographic, we only added the early childhood portion of their dedicated city taxes.
    • North Carolina and California use tobacco taxes to fund early childhood programs. These funds are channeled to the local municipalities, where decisions are made programming and accountability systems.

3. UCLA Center for Healthier Children. Families, and Communities (2011). Early development instruments (EDI): Community Profile for Austin, Texas.


Additional News on Early Childhood

  • NPR on early childhood
  • New York Times on why Obama should focus on early childhood
  • CLASP on the details of Obama preschool plan
  • Forbes on why child care and preschool are important for working families
  • GOOD infographic on the ROI of early childhood programs

Additional Resources for the Data Dashboard

1. Cost of child care UWATX analysis based on:

2. Families cannot afford care:

3. Children left unserved:

    • Total number: 2011 Community Survey. US Census Bureau.
    • Subsidized child care: Workforce Solutions – “Children In Care Report, November 2012” For this infographic, we included children in care ages 0 through 3 years.
    • Home visiting – 2011 SB6 Report. Agencies using research-based curriculum submitted date. Agencies – Communities In School, Any Baby Can, Healthy Families, AVANCE
    • Head Start and Early Head Start – Child Inc. 2011 reported enrollment
    • Other – 2011 SB6 Report. Agencies using research-based parenting curriculum submitted data – Lifeworks, Austin Learning Academy, Any Baby Can, Communities In Schools, Relief Nursery, Si Se Puede

4. Heckman formula

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