Under the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), 28 local workforce development areas administer workforce programs, including child care, in their corresponding geographical area. TWC’s workforce development boards contract with child care management agencies, which authorize voucher payments for subsidized child care and maintain networks for child care providers. The boards also set child care policies related to income eligibility, parent fees, reimbursement rates and payment schedules for providers. In order to ensure that child care subsidy rates reflect the actual market rate for child care in an area, the federal government requires each state to conduct a child care market rate survey. The School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin has been conducting Texas’ child care market rate survey for over 20 years.

Each year, the research team at the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing completes phone interviews with over 5,000 child care providers. The study sample draws from a list of all licensed and registered child care facilities across the state. A stratified, random sample of providers is chosen.  Social work students are hired to complete phone interviews in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Providers who participate in the study receive a letter containing up to date market rates for child care in their area. Although providers may use the information as they choose, many providers find it useful to compare their rates with the other rates in their area. In addition to possible benefit for the providers, the study produces up-to-date, reliable data and information to use in setting maximum reimbursements rates that ensure equal access to child care, thereby maximizing public resources.