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State-funded program offers up to a year of free childcare for eligible parents

Posted at 8:47 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 22:30:13-05

The pandemic highlighted a need for childcare across our country. As more parents continue to return to work, accessibility to affordable and reputable care is needed now more than ever.

A shift in the workforce is largely to blame for the countless job postings in our area, but Workforce Solutions of Central Texas said childcare is another massive hurdle many parents still struggle to overcome. The cost and lack of reputable child care facilities have kept many single parents out of work.

Charly Ayres, director of Industry and Education Partnerships at Workforce Solutions said, "Many times when parents don't have the ability to make sure there is good care for their children. It keeps them from pursuing opportunities. And it is a huge impact on our economy because it tends to be an obstacle for many single parents if they don't have substantial or certainly reliable childcare."

Desiree McKissick is a single mother of three who says the Child Services Program changed her life.

"If I did not have that help, there's no way that I'd be able to make it, there was no way i could pay $550 per kid per month," McKissick said. "CCS makes life more enjoyable, more financially stable. It's nice to live life, you know, I'm not miserable. So that's really nice to have for a CCS program."

Mckissick said trusting someone to watch her children while she worked was also a concern. Ayres said they only pair parents up with caregivers certified by the state.

Ayres said, "There's a high demand for it. We always could use more childcare providers, but we're really interested in helping parents get connected to the right, early childhood learning center, so they can have peace of mind."

Here in Texas, the Center for American Progress reports said, over half of the mothers with young children live in child care deserts, where facilities are few or nonexistent.

"It's important for our future growth that we make sure the children are taken care of. And parents have the peace of mind and the security of knowing that their kids are learning while they're working," said Ayres.

This type of program is beneficial for our local economy according to Dr. Faiza Khoja the Dean of College of Business Administration at Texas A&M Central Texas.

"This will definitely improve our local economy in the sense that, you know, of course, as childcare is a business in itself. That definitely will support them and will give them a boost in terms of getting back to where they were prior to COVID," said Dr. Khoja.

Ayres said he could see this program getting expanded because the need for child care is there.

"I am not going to be surprised to see it continue to grow. I think it's I think everyone's understanding that it's a huge need. It's something that needs to be continually addressed in order to have a successful economy," said Ayres.

Ayres hopes this program will continue to put recipients in a position to succeed. Mckissick says because of CCS, she has been able to get a new apartment for her family and is not taking the steps to pursue her master's degree.

For more information about the program, click here.