Austin Land Development Code Update for Child Care Centers


  • Physical Space and Facilities

Austin, Texas

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.


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.

Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:

High-quality, affordable early education and care supports children’s healthy development and allows families to work, engage in their own educational pursuits, and/or participate in other aspects of community life. To support children and families in these instrumental ways, research suggests there is a need to expand the availability of early education opportunities across the mixed-delivery system.

Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:

  • Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
  • But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.
Learn More about ELS@H Findings

Learn more about Austin

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  • The city population is 974,447
  • The percentage of children under age 5 is 5.50%
  • The median family income among households with children is $126,400