An estimated 327 Harris County child care providers now qualify for 100% property tax exemption after Harris County commissioners authorized the exemptions at a March 26 court meeting.

Just six days prior to the county approval, members of the Houston City Council also passed the tax exemption amendment, paving the way for child care facilities in both the city of Houston and Harris County to apply immediately for the exemption.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a news release that early childhood initiatives have been a major priority for her throughout the last five years of her tenure.

"As we've invested tens of millions of dollars in creating new high-quality early childhood slots in Harris County, we've also learned that a lot of these providers are facing financial challenges. Providing a 100% property tax exemption is going to make a huge difference to some of these providers to make sure they can keep their doors open and hire talented, qualified staff," Hidalgo said.

The bottom line

Harris County child care providers are expected to save $2,800 per year with no fiscal impact to the county, according to the news release.

What happens next

For the exemptions to apply to the 2024 tax year, eligible child care facilities must mail their application and affidavit, if applicable, by April 30 to the Harris Central Appraisal District, according to Hidalgo's office. Child care providers in the county can visit for the application, which is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese.

Certain requirements must be met in order for Harris County providers to be eligible for property tax exemptions including but not limited to:
  • Being participants in the Texas Workforce Commission's Texas Rising Star Program
  • Maintaining minimum of 20% of enrolled children should be receiving subsidized services through the Texas Workforce Commission
More information on the Texas Rising Star Program can be found on the program's website:

The timeline

The legal structure that allowed cities and counties across the state to enact this exemption began during the 88th legislative session in early 2023. Senate Bill 1145 and Senate Joint Resolution 64 passed, and gave cities and counties the option of providing child care facilities with property tax exemptions by 50%-100%.

By September, just two months before Texas voters took to the polls, federal funding from the COVID-19 pandemic expired. State officials projected nearly 4,000 Texas child care centers would close and leave at least 306,000 children without care, according to the county document.

By November, Texas voters passed a statewide proposition, referred to as Proposition 2, which allowed SB 1145 and SJR 64 to officially become law in 2024.

On March 20, members of the Houston City Council passed the tax exemption amendment, just six days prior to Harris County officials. Houston Mayor John Whitmire said the new amendment will significantly impact child care providers and the families they serve.

“We recognize the importance of accessible and high-quality child care services for our community,” Whitmire said. “This proposed ordinance reflects our commitment to supporting child care facilities and ensuring that families have access to the resources they need.”

Cassandra Jenkins contributed to this report.