Breaking News
More () »

The child care crisis in Central Texas

Waitlists are getting longer and parents are struggling to find affordable care.

AUSTIN, Texas — The lack of affordable child care centers has become a burden for Austin's working parents. Some parents are having trouble finding an affordable place that will take care of their children.

Open Door Preschools is an Austin organization that has several campuses across the city. Its waitlist is hundreds of people long. 

"If we just closed our waitlist right now, we would be full for a year and a half or two years," said Cynthia McCollum, executive director of Open Door Preschools.

McCollum said since the pandemic, Open Door Preschools has had a lot of ups and downs in enrollment. Right now, its schools are under-enrolled because there aren't enough qualified teachers.

"There is a lot of burnout from the pandemic," McCollum said. "People left the profession. We've seen some of our employees go to health care, to insurance, to a bank. It can be a tough job in the best of times."

In an effort to try and keep employees, Open Door Preschools raised many of its teachers' pay by 25%. 

The thing is that money has to come from somewhere – and parents are the ones being impacted. 

"We have raised our tuition several times – twice, I believe, in the last three years," McCollum said. "And we will be doing it again this summer."

She said in the last three years, Open Door Preschools raised tuition by 5%, then 7.5% and the organization will soon be raising its tuition price again by another 5%. 

"Our plan right now is to try [to] ... over the next few years, raise tuition at a slightly higher pace than we have," she said. 

Down the line, Open Door Preschools hopes to do wage increases again.

One recent report said the nation's child care crisis now costs $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity and revenue yearly. 

"Families lose $78 billion annually in forgone earnings and job search expenses. Meanwhile, productivity problems cause employers to lose $23 billion annually due to child care challenges faced by their workforce," the report stated.

Parents looking for child care can access the Texas Child Care Availability Portal and can also check if they qualify for a child care scholarship.

Boomtown is KVUE's series covering the explosive growth in Central Texas. For more Boomtown stories, head to KVUE.com/Boomtown.

Pamela Comme on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

KVUE on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube


Before You Leave, Check This Out