State implements changes for child care services, daycare owners worry they will have to turn families away

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HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — As the Lone Star State continues to open, more people are going back to work. This includes parents, who up until this past Monday when Gov. Greg Abbott gave the green light for daycares to open and begin taking in all children. Previously, daycare centers were only able to take in children of essential workers.

The state’s latest health protocols lowered the cap on the number of children inside daycares, and it all depends on the child’s age and number of caregivers. For owners Joyce and Jim Strain of Hutto’s Hippo Learning Station, it’s created a puzzle they’re trying to solve.

“What impact is this going to have financially on us having to raise rates? The smaller centers will possibly be knocked out, and with these decreased numbers where am I going to put the children without having to turn people away?” said Joyce Strain. She said the state’s cap on children’s capacity, will lead to a reduction in child care services they can offer.

Her husband believes this could lead to a $10,000 monthly loss. At present, the couple is depending on the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program to cover paychecks for their employees, but they said it’ll run out by mid-June. After that, those costs will come out of pocket.

“I feel like I am in the schoolyard fighting and just got kicked in the you know where, because all of a sudden it’s like they just pulled the rug right from under us,” Jim Strain said.

The state’s new formula for daycares impacts nine different age groups from infants to 13-year-olds, and each one is different. For example, for two caregivers per room, previous standards allowed 10 infants, now just 8 children are allowed. Every group was reduced anywhere from 38% to 80%.

“We were seeing the end of the tunnel and now it’s like, ‘what are they doing?'” questioned Joyce.

The daycare owners are trying to figure out if they can continue the afterschool program the center offers for older children, or if they should end it and use the space to separate for the young ones.

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