AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, the Austin City Council approved a resolution that would ease city zoning restrictions for child care facilities.
In addition to easing zoning restrictions, the resolution provides financial incentives for operations that build or expand in areas that child care facilities are limited or don't exist.
While on the campaign trail – and in a one-on-one interview with KVUE – Mayor Kirk Watson said his first priority was child care in Austin because he wants families to raise their families here.
Last month, Brightwheel, a tech platform that connects schools and families, analyzed 469 daycares to find the average monthly costs for child care in Austin. The study found that parents are paying, on average, $1,100 a month for child care.
Drafted by Councilmember Vanessa Fuentes (District 2), the newly-approved resolution would change the city’s Land Development Code to lessen parking requirements, allow more kids in a facility in both commercial and residential day cares and create a zoning classification specifically for child care services, among other changes to City code.
The resolution passed with several different amendments.
Councilmember Mackenzie Kelly (District 6) proposed the resolution also include a focus on providing child care services for the city’s public safety employees, such as Austin Police Department, Austin Fire Department, Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin 9-1-1 and Austin 3-1-1 personnel.
Council Member José Vela (District 4) proposed an amendment that eliminates parking requirements at child care facilities, with the exception of necessary accessible parking spots.
Council Member José Velásquez (District 3) added an amendment that would prioritize equitable financial distribution of funding, with a specific focus on child care deserts. His amendment also included that child care facilities pay minimum wage or living wage to its employees.
The goal of the resolution is to help create more affordable child care options for parents and guardians living in Austin because child care costs can vary more depending on the age of the child and the frequency that the child attends the facility during the week.