AUSTIN (KXAN)— Texas could be losing billions of dollars as a state, because of a growing childcare issue.

A new report from Ready Nation Texas, a bipartisan nonprofit, shows things could be getting worse. And their data shows this will impact more than just families with small kids.

Ready Nation said Texas’ child care workforce is now 12% smaller than it was before the pandemic.

“Many providers had to close their doors permanently, and too many of those that did reopen did so at reduced capacity,” Katie Ferrier, the vice president of Education and Workforce Development for the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce said.

Access, affordability and quality are factors playing a role in what ready Texas calls a childcare crisis. And it found insufficient childcare for kids under age three specifically, can be a major loss for the economy.

Life with three young kids is nothing short of an adventure for Kari Mars.

However, behind the laughs and smiles of raising her growing family comes stress.

“It was impossible to find any kind of childcare and especially ones that I could afford,” Mars said.

She did finally find a place, but said it was costing her around $1,000 monthly, going further than home and work than she’d like to drop off her child.

“It seems like it hasn’t improved in simply gotten worse,” Mars said.

Ready Nation proposed solutions to improve Texas’ situation that it details in the end of its new report:

  • Invest in the early childhood workforce to ensure that the rest of the workforce can work and be competitive
  • Set reimbursement rates at true cost of care, not the market rate
  • Pay child care providers based on the quality of their programs, not on what low-income working families can afford to pay
  • Provide property tax relief to child care providers who commit to serving children in the state’s child care scholarship program
  • Improve career pathways by removing barriers for early childhood educators to get their education
  • Provide sustainable funding to support child care programs, especially those serving infants and toddlers, in child care deserts, or working towards Texas Rising Star levels 3 or 4
  • Hold Local Workforce Boards accountable not only for the number of children served, but ensuring families have access to quality programs for all ages of children, specifically infants and toddlers

The legislature did pass a property tax cut for childcare providers last session, that voters are now currently voting on locally.