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Innovation Name Innovation Type Innovation Subtype Features at a Glance Strategy Summary
Austin Land Development Code Update for Child Care Centers Expansion Physical Space and Facilities

Amendments to the city’s Land Development Code permit child care centers to operate or build in locations where they previously could not, increasing the available space for commercial child care centers in Austin by about 77,000 acres

In January 2023, the Austin City Council passed a resolution instructing the City Manager to draft amendments to the Land Development Code to make it easier to provide child care services throughout the city. The resolution also called for an economic development grant program to help qualifying child care operators cover city fees associated with opening or expanding a child care facility.

Nine months later, after the amendments were finalized, the City Council passed a resolution to codify them, thereby expanding land-use allowances and permitting operators of child care centers to build in locations where they previously could not. The changes created a new zoning designation for child care centers, allowed child care facilities to be operated in residential areas, and increased the number of children who are allowed to enroll at child care centers. The resolution also helped to remove zoning, permitting, and fee requirements. 

The new regulations increased the available space for commercial child care centers in Austin by about 77,000 acres. In the city’s child care deserts specifically, the area in which commercial child care centers can operate increased about 200%, to 60,339 acres.

LEARN MORE: AUSTIN LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE UPDATE

Sources:

KUT Radio, Austin's NPR Station. (2023). It just got a lot easier to operate a child care center in Austin.

City of Austin. (2023). Resolution No. 20230126-055.

Speak Up Austin. (n.d.). C20-2023-001 Childcare Services.

City of Austin. (2023). Recommendation for Action.

Community Impact. (2023). Child care centers now allowed in more places across Austin.

Austin Property Tax Exemption for Child Care Facilities Dedicated Funding Streams Expansion Physical Space and Facilities Property Tax

Following voters’ approval of a state constitutional amendment, the City Council authorized a 100% property tax exemption for eligible child care operators in the city

In November 2023, Texas voters approved Proposition 2, activating a constitutional amendment that allows counties or municipalities to authorize a property tax exemption on all or part of the appraised value of property used to operate child care facilities. Two days later, in a unanimous vote, the City Council made Austin the first city in Texas to authorize a 100% property tax exemption for eligible child care operators in the city, beginning in 2024. The Council also directed the city manager to identify similar relief options for home-based child care centers, which are not eligible for tax relief under the constitutional amendment. 

 The amendment specifies that the exemption for child care operators must equal at least 50% of the property’s appraised value. Advocates for the amendment aimed to alleviate some of the financial burden that Texas child care facilities face, allowing providers to put more money toward recruiting and retaining high-quality staff, maintaining physical spaces, and acquiring necessary supplies.

For a child care facility to be exempt, it must be both licensed and part of the Texas Rising Star Program, a quality rating and improvement system for child care programs that participate in the Texas Workforce Commission’s Child Care Services. At least 20% of the children enrolled in the facility’s child care program must receive subsidies or scholarships from the Texas Workforce Commission. Home-based child care facilities are not eligible. The amendment went into effect in January 2024. 

LEARN MORE: PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR CHILD CARE facilities

Sources:

KUT Radio, Austin's NPR Station. (2023). Austin City Council gives some child care providers property tax relief.

Austin American-Statesman. (2023). Austin moves to grant tax breaks to child care centers after Texas voters approve Prop 2.

Ballotpedia. (2023). Texas Proposition 2, Property Tax Exemption for Child-Care Facilities Amendment.

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Demographics Link copied!

City population

974,447 Source U.S. Census Bureau, 2022

Persons under 5 years old

5.50% Source U.S. Census Bureau, 2022

Poverty levels: Children 0-8 below 200% poverty

N/A Source KIDS COUNT, 2022

Median family income among households with children

$126,400 Source KIDS COUNT, 2022

Unemployment rate

2.70% Source U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Unemployment rate of parents

N/A Source KIDS COUNT, 2022

Children under age 6 with all available parents in the labor force

N/A Source KIDS COUNT, 2022

Children living in households with a high housing cost burden

53% Source KIDS COUNT, 2022