Column: Fort Worth hailed as national model for early education

Betsy Price

The Fort Worth community is leading the nation in our approach to child care.

The National Collaborative for Infants & Toddlers selected Tarrant County as one of three national models for early education.

We are honored by this acknowledgement, as our community has consistently worked toward building a city that is a great place to raise kids – beginning at birth.

We know that the first three years of a child’s life are when the brain is developing at its most rapid rate – with 1,000 new neural connections forming every second. Decades of research have shown that children who are exposed to quality child care and early learning experiences are more likely to graduate high school, have better health and educational outcomes, and earn a higher wage in their later years.

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Coincidentally, attracting and retaining a highly productive workforce today requires more than just offering great jobs and competitive salaries – it entails providing quality, dependable child care options for working parents so they can have consistent support for their family and peace of mind while they are at work.

So providing quality care for our babies is not just the right thing to do for children. It’s also the smart thing to do to support a prosperous Fort Worth – the nation’s fastest growing large city, and currently the 15th largest city in the U.S.

Consider the recent successes our community has accomplished in child care:

• 62 percent increase in the number of quality-rated child care centers over the last two years

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• 1,800 local child care professionals registered to elevate their training and work towards an accredited career pathway

• 10 percent gain in emotional support child care scores (proven to highly impact child development) across all local early learning classrooms – including public schools, Head Start and Early Head Start centers, and subsidized child care centers

• 200 parents with children age 0-5 providing real-time feedback to our school districts and decision-making bodies to influence local funding, policies, and practices.

Our work to date has been collaborative and cross-sector, spearheaded by the Early Learning Alliance and its 50+ member organizations that are moving this important work forward each day. And our focus on early education will only continue to grow stronger, as we work together with the business community, the Chamber of Commerce, philanthropy, and other community partners to solidify quality child care as a key strategic lever for Fort Worth’s future. Because we know that providing access to quality early learning supports healthy families, a connected community, and a vibrant economy.

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The next phase of this vision starts today – with an intentional focus on our youngest citizens and their families. Fort Worth will kick off our 2019 moniker as “Best Place to Raise Kids” by celebrating the first-ever Baby Day Friday, February 8.

Join sponsoring organization First3Years at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT), where families, businesses, city leaders, and community members will come together to celebrate our tiniest Texans and future leaders.

A host of free early learning resources will be available to attendees, with breakfast and family-friendly activities included.

We are proud that Fort Worth is leading the way in creating quality child care and early learning experiences for every child and family. And we know that creating the “Best Place to Raise Kids” is dependent on engaged, dedicated partners linking arms with us in this work. Let’s make 2019 – starting with Baby Day – our best year yet.

For more information, visit

Sources:, HighScope Educational Foundation Perry Preschool Study at Age 40, Abecedarian Project, Voices for America’s Children and the Child and Family Policy Center, NAEYC, NACCRA, TRS, TSR

Early Learning Alliance, Fort Worth Parent Engagement Collaborative


Sadie Funk is CEO of First3Years, the sponsoring organization of BabyDay and a leading advocate for the healthy development of infants and toddlers.Mayor Betsy Price is mayor of Fort Worth.