AUSTIN (KXAN) — Anthony Carrillo and his wife struggled to find childcare in Austin for their two young daughters, who are twins. It’s a problem parents in Austin tell us is city-wide.
“It would be really hard to overstate the lack of quality care here in Austin,” Carrillo said. “It was really difficult to find everything that we wanted and it was so expensive that the schools we really liked had a huge waitlist.”
The Carrillo family decided to become part of the solution. They created the Mockingbird Microschool in a residential area in south Austin. But that process wasn’t easy either.
“It was a lot more of a process than I thought. There’s two things: State of Texas requirements and the city requirements. and one of the big issues is those two don’t match up,” Carrillo said.
Austin City Council is expected to vote on a resolution next Thursday that would ease city zoning restrictions for child care facilities. It would also provide financial incentives for operations that build or expand in child care deserts.
The resolution, brought forward by Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, would change the city’s land development code to lessen parking requirements, allow more kids in a facility in both commercial and residential daycares and create a zoning classification specifically for child care services, among other changes to city code.
It would also direct the city manager to create an economic development grant program that would help someone looking to create or expand a facility pay city fees associated with doing so.
The goal is to help create more affordable child care options for Austinites. Child care is one of the most expensive line items for families in Austin, according to Fuentes.
“Which is why if we’re serious about addressing affordability, we have to make sure it’s easier to build child care centers so that we have more child care options available to all Austinites, all throughout our city,” she said.
Last year, KXAN’s Investigative team found staffing shortages at care facilities were contributing to the problem. According to a survey done in March 2022 — which included nearly 100 child care centers in Central Texas — 94% had a waitlist.
Families looking for a program right now can use a statewide portal that lists child care availability in real-time.
Families can also see if they qualify for child care financial assistance in Travis County and for rural areas outside of Travis County.