Millions of children in Texas are at risk of losing access to child care as pandemic-era funding is set to expire in just two days. The funding, which was included in the American Rescue Plan in 2021, provided $4.1 billion for child care providers in the state. However, this funding is set to expire on September 30, leaving more than 70,000 child care facilities in Texas in a precarious position.
A recent report by the Century Foundation highlights the potential impact of this funding expiration. If child care facilities are forced to shut their doors, it would not only affect families with young children but also have ripple effects on the wider community. Senior Director of Education for the Texas nonprofit Children at Risk, Kim Kofron, emphasized how child care is essential for many individuals to go to work, including staff, grocers, and bankers.
The funding provided by the American Rescue Plan was crucial for child care providers to cover expenses such as rent, utilities, cleaning supplies, and teacher wages. Without this funding, child care facilities will struggle to find workers, and some have already started closing. Raising rates may be the only option for many providers, which is not an ideal solution.
To address this looming crisis, Kofron stressed the need for action from all levels of government. Congress must pass the budget to ensure continued support for child care, and states and local communities must also come together to find solutions. According to the United Way, 3.2 million children across the U.S., including 305,975 in Texas, are set to lose access to child care. Additionally, 3,949 child care programs are expected to close, resulting in the loss of 17,704 education jobs in Texas alone.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray called attention to the child care crisis and urged leaders to pass the Child Care Stabilization Act. This act would provide $16 billion in mandatory funding each year for the next five years, offering much-needed stability to the child care industry. Murray emphasized that child care is not only essential for parents to work but also a vital investment in the future of children and the economy as a whole.
Parents who may be affected by the September 30 deadline and need to find new child care options can seek assistance from United Way’s 2-1-1 helpline. The helpline provides information on affordable child care in specific zip codes and offers support in both English and Spanish.
As the deadline looms, the fate of child care funding remains uncertain. It is crucial for Congress to take immediate action to extend the funding and provide stability for child care providers and families across the country.