HERE TO HELP
quali¢ed workers, Ray said. “Our enrollment dropped for quite a while, and we’ve been able to rebuild just recently,” Ray said. “We’ve also struggled with sta—both keeping them healthy and keeping them here.” A survey released in February by the National Association for the Edu- cation of Young Children reported two-thirds of child care centers in the U.S. are experiencing a sta©ng short- age. A September 2021 NAEYC survey reported 86% of child care centers in Texas saw sta©ng shortages; 79% of those surveyed identi¢ed wages as the main recruitment challenge. In May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average annual wage for a child care worker in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area was $24,150—the ninth lowest-paying occupation out of the 709 occupations in the region that receive an annual wage. Resources and funding On June 14, the Harris County Com- missioners Court approved the use of $48 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a new child care and early childhood development program, which aims to increase the accessibility of child care in Harris
County by 10%. “Early childhood programs have one of the strongest returns on invest- ment of any type of public program,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. “Those positive eects also endure throughout the child’s life.” According to a June 13 news release, the program will be a three-year pilot that will create more child care options for children age 3 and younger in Harris County communities with less oppor- tunities. Funds will also be allocated to provide child care workers with better wages and to help child care centers recover from pandemic-induced eco- nomic hardships. At the federal level, Early Head Start and Head Start oer low-income families free early educational oppor- tunities and services. Local Head Start centers include Spring ISD’s Bammel and Eickenroht elementary schools, while the Oakwood Avance Center oers both programs. Additionally, SISD’s 21st Century Program oers free after-school care and summer camps for K-12 students attending speci¢c SISD campuses. In partnership with KISD, Drown said Campus Kids oers scholarships on a case-by-case basis to aid military families and families experiencing
As the cost of child care continues to rise across the U.S., there are some resources available to help local low-income families.
Avance Head Start and Early Head Start • Free early educational opportunities and other services for low-income families with children age 5 and younger www.avancehouston.org D. Bradley McWilliams YMCA • Financial assistance available for program fees https://ymcahouston.org/ L.I.F.E. Houston • Emergency formula assistance for children under age 1 www.lifehouston.org/getformula
Houston Parks Department • Meals program for children age 18 and younger www.houstontx.gov/parks Texas Child Care Solutions/ Houston-Galveston Workforce Solutions • Financial assistance with child care www.wrksolutions.com Texas Workforce Commission • Financial assistance for families with children with disabilities www.twc.texas.gov
SOURCES: HOUSTONGALVESTON WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS, TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION, HOUSTON PARKS DEPARTMENT, LIFE HOUSTON, YMCA OF GREATER HOUSTON, AVANCE HOUSTON COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
¢nancial hardships. Additionally, an initiative through the American Rescue Plan Act oered to aid families during the pandemic was the 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit payment, which allowed par- ents to receive an average $250-$300 monthly payment per child starting July 15, 2021, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Kofron said she hopes to see state and federal legislators continue to
invest in child care in the future. “We really want to make sure that as we plan into next year as when those funds run out that there’s some mech- anisms in place to make sure that the bottom doesn’t fall out,” Kofron said. Ally Bolender contributed to this report.
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SPRING KLEIN EDITION • JULY 2022
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