Texas Early Childhood Intervention


Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) is a $470 million federal program providing home-based support to families with children who have developmental delays or disabilities. ECI provides home-based support during a critical window (ages 0 to 3), but high-quality evidence supporting its costs and benefits is lacking. In Texas, ECI funding was cut by 15% from 2012-2018. The ECI leadership team seeks to estimate the program’s cost-savings for the state, and health and education impacts for children. This will help shape the program’s design and provide an evidence base for future funding debates.


TPL’s role:

The Policy Lab will conduct an impact evaluation based on the economics of human capital formation, representing a first-of-its-kind study of the program’s impacts. This collaboration will break data silos and combine “big data” from Texas’ ECI, Medicaid, and K-12 education agencies to take a holistic view on how ECI may be impacting lives and generating a return on investment for Texas taxpayers.



This project highlights the groundbreaking potential of evidence-based policymaking—when TPL partners with agency leaders who ask policy relevant questions, commit to rigorous evaluation design and overcome bureaucratic obstacles by merging decades of untapped administrative data. The knowledge generated will improve the lives of the nearly 60,000 children and families served by Texas ECI each year, influencing about $200 million in annual spending on ECI services.



“The TPL staff have been extremely helpful in assisting our program with refining our research questions, determining the data elements most important to study, and providing a framework for the agreements that will be necessary to begin sharing the data needed to analyze the Early Childhood Intervention program’s down-stream impacts on other programs and services. This project has the potential to inform understanding of the benefits of early intervention services in Texas as well as to contribute to the national dialogue on the importance of early intervention.”

— Dana McGrath, Director of Early Childhood Intervention Services