Staff at local child care facilities have been working to overcome and persevere through the hurdles experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Child care facilities throughout the state had to limit capacity in March 2020, and had to follow state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to increase occupancy in phases.

“[We’re] just trying to build the business back up,” said Summer Bolado, owner and director of Triple L Ranch Child Development. “You know, having to wait for the labor force to be ready to come back, or waiting for parents [to] not be afraid to send their kids because there were so many unknowns—just trying to piece all of that together along the way I feel like was really challenging.”

Bolado said it was difficult to keep up with the state, city and county COVID-19-related safety mandates.

“That part of COVID[-19] was really hard, trying to finagle all of the different guidelines, which none of them, of course, matched as far as requirements went for child care,” Bolado said.

Due to the growth in the New Braunfels area, Bolado said they have been able to stay busy and maintain operations. As a child care facility that has been in the community for 19 years, Bolado said Triple L Ranch has begun to see previous students bring in their own children.

“I think that the most fun part of the job is getting to almost be a part of the families,” Bolada said. “We always tease that at Triple L—we're kind of our own family here; we get so attached to everybody.”

What’s next?

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act signed into law in 2021, the federal government allocated $24 billion in grants to child care providers to help create financial relief through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas alone received a little over $4 billion through the Child Care Stabilization Program—funded through the American Rescue Plan Act—but with the end of fiscal year 2022-23, funding is set to be cut off Sept. 30.

The big picture

According to the White House website, the stabilization grants were used to help small businesses stay open by providing funds to pay rent, improve facilities and/or retain employees. In Texas, the stabilization program served 836,000 children with 10,790 child care programs in the state receiving support from the government.

Kim Kofron, senior director of education for Children at Risk, a Houston-based nonprofit advocacy group, said she has already begun to hear stories of longtime day care centers beginning to close.

“We already have child care deserts, [and] with the impending child care cliff, we are anticipating even more closures, and because of that it will be even harder to find child care," she said. "The remaining centers will have to either lower wages or increase tuition. Neither of those are good choices."

During the 88th Texas Legislative Session, a $2.3 billion House proposal for child care was left out of the final budget. However, a joint resolution was passed to put a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot to create targeted property tax cuts for child care centers.

Senate Bill 1145 prohibits the exemption from being less than 50% of the appraised value. If the constitutional amendment passes in November, counties and municipalities can adopt the exemption effective Jan. 1.