Grapevine, Texas – Diminished enrolment, a reduction in personnel, and deserted classrooms paint a stark image of the current landscape of many Texan childcare facilities. This pressing circumstance has underscored the urgency of the ongoing childcare crisis in the state, rendering it a topic of keen public concern.
“Texas is facing a childcare crisis,” Feigen said. “Parents can’t find enough high-quality childcare, they can’t afford the childcare they do find, and then the programs themselves don’t have the resources they need to stay open, hire and retain the resources they need.”
Regrettably, the pandemic has exacerbated this dire situation. While many childcare establishments received some measure of temporary relief in the form of government subsidies, these funds are rapidly depleting, and the imminent cessation of these resources paints an even more desolate picture.
“The funding is drying up into the summer…they’re spending the little money they have left. It’s causing us to hit a crisis point.”
Survey data from the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children offers further cause for concern. A significant 44% of childcare programs surveyed foresee a likely or probable closure within the upcoming year.
The childcare industry is in desperate need of a rescue strategy. One such attempt emerged during the recent legislative session with a proposal of a hefty $2.3 billion bailout. Regrettably, this initiative failed to pass.
“We were very disappointed the legislature didn’t pass any significant funding to begin dealing with the scale of the crisis in our state,” Feigen said.
Given this situation, Feigen asserts that innovative and resourceful initiatives are needed more urgently than ever before. One such initiative is being undertaken by the staff at Living Word Lutheran Church in Grapevine, who plan to launch a free-tuition preschool in the fall.
Currently accepting applications for 45 children, the institution is aptly named “Love One Another Preschool.” It is a testament to their mission to support families who are struggling to afford preschool education.
“Preschool in general is a very costly experience,” said Chris Anderson, the preschool’s director. “We want to reach out to the community and provide this as a service.”
Feigen says these local efforts are critical.
“They are a critical part of this, because it’s not one size fits all…we need faith-based programs, home based programs…etc.” he said.
While local efforts like these are commendable, Feigen is quick to acknowledge that they form only part of a multi-pronged approach necessary to confront this crisis.
Despite the good these local efforts can achieve, Feigen and the church staff recognize their limitations.
The hope, however, is that their efforts might not save the world, but they could be transformative for a few families.
Additionally, they express the wish that their initiative could serve as an inspiration for others to emulate in the region.
If you’re looking to apply to the free preschool, you can do so here.