With funding ending, 44% of child care programs likely to close within the next year, survey says

Texas Workforce Commission provided over $34.6 billion using the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan Act in 2021 and 2022. Many programs are receiving their final payments in the coming months.

Save the Children Texas Director John Bracken said a lack of quality childcare can have a profound impact on kids.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
The Child Care Relief Funds has ended, which is leaving many child care facilities and families wondering how to move forward.

Child Care Relief Funds (CCRF) ending will likely lead to closure of child care programs across Texas.

A survey from the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children shows 60% of respondents statewide said their program would be closed without the support of CCRF. With the funds ending soon, 44% are predicted to close within the next year.

In 2021 and 2022, the Texas Workforce Commission provided over $34.6 billion to child care programs using the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and American Rescue Plan Act.

Some programs have received their final payment already, and others will be receiving them in the coming months. This could lead many families to seek other child care options once the funds end.

Cody Summerville is the Executive Director of the Texas Association for Education of Youth Children (TXAEYC) and said while some might rely on extended family and friends, others could seek unregulated child care options.

"We see that when that's the case, families are far less productive at work because they are concerned about the health and safety of their children," Summerville said.

The child care industry was already seeing a shortage prior to the CCRF ending. Summerville said the average Texas child care teacher earns around $12 an hour.

"Child care programs are really struggling to recruit and retain educators in their program," he said. "This is leading many programs to not be enrolled at full capacity."

TXEAYC's data shows that in Harris County, there were almost 4,000 licensed child care centers in 2020. As of February 2023, there were a little over 2,500.

Of Harris County child care centers who responded to the survey, nearly 80% of them will have to raise their tuition when the CCRF ends. Some locations might have to cut wages, as well.

Summerville also noted some families might even need to choose who stays home to care for their children instead of going to work.

"It really puts families in a hard place because they have to decide, are they going to be able to generate enough income to keep food on the table?" Summerville said.

Advocates are asking the Texas Legislature for $2.29 billion in child care over the next two years in an effort to continue supporting young children, working families, and businesses across the state.

State legislators passed HB 619 in the last session, which required the Texas Workforce Commission to develop a plan for the child care workforce. Summerville said the $2.29 billion plan was first discussed during one of those stakeholder workgroups.

"We are needing all legislators to make child care funding a priority this session," Summerville said. "Working families can't afford to pay any more for child care, and early child educators can't afford to earn any less."