Research Publication, Research Series

Practitioners in Texas’ Child Care Subsidy Program Describe How Policy Implementation Impacts Hispanic Families’ Receipt of Subsidies

Download brief as a PDF

This brief was updated on 6/5/2024 to add two missing notes for Table 1.


This brief draws on a recent survey capturing the perspectives of local Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program staff in Texas to determine possible program-related barriers to and facilitators of subsidy access for Latino families. Part of a multi-state study of access to CCDF subsidies for Hispanica families,1,2 the brief discusses Latino families’ experiences as they seek child care subsidies in Texas through the eyes of the front-line staff who service them.

Latino children make up nearly half the child population (49%)3 in Texas, with nearly one third (29%) living below the poverty line, comprising roughly two thirds of the state’s CCDF eligible children.4 Yet Hispanic children make up less than half of child care subsidy recipients in Texas,5 mirroring the national pattern of Latino families being underserved by this program.

About this series and brief

Practitioners in Texas’ Child Care Subsidy Program Describe How Policy Implementation Impacts Hispanic Families’ Receipt of Subsidies is part of a research series on Latino families’ access to social welfare assistance; the series examines—from different vantage points—how government programs offering benefits to income-eligible families are structured and implemented in ways that shape families’ access and uptake. Here, we use findings from a survey of Texas child care subsidy program staff in the summer of 2023 as part of the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families’ Multi-State Study of CCDF Implementation in local communities. The study seeks to inform federal and state efforts to reduce administrative burden on families and improve the efficiency, equity, and efficacy of service delivery—especially among Latino families. To read the full version, download the PDF.

To identify possible program-related barriers and facilitators to Latino family access to subsidies, we surveyed 235 local child care subsidy staff about their implementation practices and experiences, with a focus on their engagement with Hispanic families. Local program staff provided insights about subsidy implementation practices that may challenge or facilitate Hispanic families’ access to affordable child care. These findings can inform ongoing policy efforts—at the state, territory, Tribal, and federal levels—to reduce administrative burdens and support equity, efficiency, and efficacy of government service delivery.

Key Findings

Our findings document the perceptions and experiences of local subsidy program staff who implement the child care subsidy program in Texas, pointing to areas of administrative burden that may help explain disproportionately lower rates of subsidy receipt among Latino children in Texas. Subsidy program staff voices also provided insights on the resources and strategies sometimes used to engage Hispanic families and help them learn about, apply for, and receive subsidy benefits.

Staff perspectives on child care subsidy eligibility and the application process

Local child care subsidy program staff were generally in alignment on their perceptions of eligibility criteria and the application process, and consistent with how Texas state policy describes eligibility and application requirements. Staff varied, however, in the types of documentation they typically collect from families and their ideas about the challenges these expectations present for some applicants.

  • According to staff—and consistent with state policy—families can qualify for subsidies for a variety of parent- and child-focused reasons, with employment, job search, and involvement with child protective services cited as the most common qualifying activities among the families they served.
  • Most staff agreed that documents to verify household income, employment, and child citizenship are required, which aligns with Texas state policy. However, there was less consensus about whether families are required to provide a valid driver’s license or state ID and Social Security numbers.
  • Approximately half of staff felt that verification of income, work hours, and child birth certificates were challenging for both Hispanic families and other applicants.

Staff perspectives and capacity-related issues around language accessibility of services

Many local subsidy program staff in Texas reported having Latine heritage and Spanish language skills, which indicates potential capacity to provide culturally and linguistically responsive services to Spanish-speaking Hispanic applicants. At the same time, staff reported that few supports are available to Latino families that primarily speak languages indigenous to Latin America, which could constrain engagement with these families.

  • Approximately half of staff self-identified as Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx, and about one in three reported they were a native or fluent Spanish speaker.
  • About two thirds of staff reported that Spanish translation or interpreter services over the phone were “very accessible” for families, and roughly half perceived online materials and in-person supports to be “very accessible” for Spanish-speaking families.
  • In contrast, few staff felt that translation or interpreter services over the phone were accessible in languages indigenous to Latin America, and even fewer felt that other online and in-person resources were accessible in Indigenous languages.
  • While roughly one third of staff reported feeling “very prepared” to help Spanish-speaking families, others reported feeling prepared to a lesser extent. Additionally, two thirds said they were “not at all prepared” to support families who speak languages indigenous to Latin America.

Staff perspectives on outreach to Latino communities

Local subsidy program staff in Texas also reported on their agency’s outreach efforts. Staff responding to our survey shared that relationship-based methods were commonly used to connect Latine communities with child care subsidies and other social services.

  • Staff felt that Hispanic families most often learned about the subsidy program through relationship-based methods, including word of mouth, in-person outreach, and direct referrals from child care providers, social service organizations, and community organizations.
  • About half of responding staff said their agency participated in targeted outreach to Latinx communities, although roughly the same proportion were unsure about whether community contacts made these connections.

Recommendations for reducing subsidy access barriers

The findings from this study point to several steps that CCDF administering agencies could take to reduce access barriers for Latine families eligible to receive subsidized child care:

  • Allow for greater flexibility around employment and income verification to be more responsive to the realities of many parents’ work conditions (e.g., irregular or seasonal schedules, multiple jobs, and undocumented pay), especially for the many Hispanic parents that work these types of jobs.
  • Provide guidance and training for subsidy program staff to align and clarify procedures for collecting application documents, with a goal of minimizing burden for families and staff.
  • Develop a social service workforce with cultural and linguistic capacity to engage with Latino families.


a We use “Hispanic,” “Latino,” “Latinx,” and “Latine” interchangeably throughout the brief. The terms are used to reflect the U.S. Census definition to include individuals having origins in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, as well as other “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish” origins.

Suggested Citation

Stephens, C., Mendez, J., & Crosby, D., A., (2024). Practitioners in Texas’ child care subsidy program describe how policy implementation impacts Hispanic families’ receipt of subsidies. National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families. DOI: 10.59377/722s5477o


1 Crosby, D., Mendez, J., & Stephens, C. (2023). Child Care Subsidy Staff Share Perspectives on Policy Implementation Practices and Effective Outreach with Latino Families in California. National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.

2 Lin, Y., Crosby, D., Mendez, J., & Stephens, C. (2022). Child care subsidy staff share perspectives on administrative burden faced by Latino applicants in North Carolina. National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families.

3 Population Division, U.S. Census Bureau (2023). Child population by race and ethnicity. Anne E. Casey Foundation, Kinds Count Data Center.

4 Hill, Z., Gennetian, L. A., & Mendez, J. (2019a). How State Policies Might Affect Hispanic Families’ Access to and Use of Child Care and Development Fund Subsidies

5 Texas Workforce Commission (2023). Child Care Services Guide.

Related Research