Texas child care leaders discuss state of industry amid coronavirus

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, child care groups have put resources into informing and educating families about things like who essential workers are and how to receive government assistance. (Screenshot from April 21 videoconference)
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, child care groups have put resources into informing and educating families about things like who essential workers are and how to receive government assistance. (Screenshot from April 21 videoconference)

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, child care groups have put resources into informing and educating families about things like who essential workers are and how to receive government assistance. (Screenshot from April 21 videoconference)

Members of child care-focused nonprofits and advocacy groups emphasized the need for state investment in early education at a virtual roundtable discussion April 21 hosted by Houston-based nonprofit Children at Risk.

Several of the 10 panelists said that while their respective organizations had prepared for a surge in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic, that has not been the case so far. Rather, child care groups have put resources into informing and educating families about things like who essential workers are and how to receive government assistance.

“I think it's just [been about] trying to support and encourage people where they are,” said Jill Goodrich, the executive director at Opportunity School—Amarillo.

On April 10, Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new Frontline Child Care website to help essential workers in Texas locate child care and to support child care centers caring for children during the outbreak. The website, which integrates a mapping portal, was built through the collaboration of several state agencies, including the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, according to a media release from the governor’s office.

Portal users can search for nearby facilities, facility operating hours and number of available slots; they can also find other basic health and safety information and step-by-step instructions for applying for child care financial assistance. Users also have access toTHHSC's inspection and compliance records.



The website includes guidance for front-line employers on how to assist employees in need, and also provides child care centers and school districts with resources to support their child care programs.

"The Frontline Child Care website will strengthen our child care capacity across the state, allowing our essential workers to continue their work to keep us safe and provide the critical services that Texans depend on,” the governor said in the release.

Panelists addressed how legislators should focus on the future of child care during the next legislative session. Cathy McHorse, vice president of Success By 6 with United Way for Greater Austin, applauded Abbott’s efforts to coordinate child care system improvements across the state but emphasized that child care is “woefully underfunded on a normal basis.”

Given the current pandemic, best practices at child care centers are now more expensive, so greater public investment must come with the exacerbated need, McHorse said.

In order for children to be school-ready, a positive relationship needs to exist between parents and the child care centers their children attend, said Melanie Johnson, president and CEO of Collaborative for Children—Houston.

“It’s not just a building that we’re trying to survive in order to provide parents the opportunity to go back to work. ... It’s also that this child is the future workforce,” she said.

However, child care goes beyond providing for children ages 0 to 3—it plays a role in children’s lives during the school year all the way into their early teens, said Sylvia Acosta, CEO of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region.

Acosta added that she believes legislators have a lack of understanding of what constitutes quality child care.
Child care providers need to be vetted to ensure they can properly give support to young children and help build them into future community leaders, eliminating lower-quality and unlicensed child care centers, Acosta said.

“We really need to have a much deeper conversation on funding of quality child care,” Acosta said.

The effect of the pandemic on children in low-income families has been a widely discussed topic; experts continue to debate whether those children are being left behind with schools closing their doors, said Bob Sanborn, Children at Risk president and CEO. He said that this same attention needs to be given to early education.

“When we don’t pay attention to early education, we’re leaving an entire group behind as well,” he said during the panel. “The state needs to see this much more than they have in the past.”

By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.

<

MOST RECENT

Photo of an H-E-B store
H-E-B makes curbside services free

Previously, curbside shoppers were charged a $4.95 fee on all orders, but moving forward that fee will be waived on purchases of $35 or more. Orders worth less than $35 will have a $2.95 "small basket surcharge" attached.

Each of the new locations will be available to the public to distribute and receive voter registration forms and applications to vote my mail as well as assisting with other election-related services. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Harris County elections administrator announces 8 new branch office locations

Registering to vote will soon be more convenient for Harris County residents with the opening of eight new branch office locations announced by the Harris County Elections Administrator's Office in a news release May 17.

Imperio Wine & Spirits sells a variety of liquor, beer, wine and spirits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Imperio Wine & Spirits opens in Katy; Montgomery Chick-fil-A to open dining room and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area.

The flood gauges will help monitor rainfall and stream levels in specific areas during heavy-rainfall events. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
League City installs 6 flood gauges in Clear Creek, Dickinson Bayou watersheds

Once installed and operational, data from the gauges will be published online so residents can track water levels during high-rainfall events.

The art classes are split into kindergarten through fifth graders and sixth through 12th graders. (Courtesy of University of Houston-Clear Lake)
University of Houston-Clear Lake expands offerings at Art School for Children

The school's first classes geared specifically towards children on the autism spectrum will be offered May 22 for grades K-12.

See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
See how some Greater Houston area school districts are planning to go back to school for the 2021-22 academic year

While some school districts in the Greater Houston area are doing away with face mask requirements and virtual schooling completely, others are pivoting to continue offering online learning options for students and plan to require face masks.

(Courtesy city of Houston)
BREAKING: Collins Aerospace coming to Houston Spaceport

Houston officials have announced another company slated for the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport in Clear Lake.

masks
CDC ends all mask requirements for fully vaccinated people

The guidance states fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks indoors or outdoors.

Dan Seal, League City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bay Area economy, BAHEP, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership
Economic official: Bay Area economy chugging along

Despite hurricanes, COVID-19, the February freeze and other hurdles, economic development in the Bay Area continues to move ahead in several industries.

Special Strong offers personal, group and virtual adaptive fitness programs for those with mental, physical and cognitive challenges who want to socialize and improve their health and wellness. (Courtesy Mike Lutey)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: Adaptive fitness program now open in southeast Houston and more

Here is a roundup of recent business and community news in the Bay Area.

The beaches along the lagoon have been deepened, offering about triple the amount of beach area to accommodate an expected increase in visitors and still allow for social distancing. (Courtesy of Lago Mar)
Crystal Lagoons to debut Houston's longest swim-up bar May 28

New features and activities will include a five-story waterslide, catapult swing and Houston's longest swim-up bar.