Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT researcher policy brief reveals continued struggle for childcare access in Texas

Elijah Olive

Texas is in urgent need of accessible and affordable child care, according to a recent policy brief by UT researchers in the LBJ School of Public Affairs. 

According to the brief, over half of Texas counties are considered “child care deserts,” with at least three times as many children under five as there are childcare slots available. Additionally, infant care in Texas costs $777 per month on average, almost 14% of the state’s median household income.

“Texas has always seen child care as an economic development issue, but it is also, indisputably, a human development and support issue, too,” the researchers said in the brief. 

Steven Pedigo, co-author of the brief and director of the LBJ Urban Lab, an urban policy think-tank, said after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden Administration gave money to states through the American Rescue Plan, to fix identified issues such as childcare. 

Texas did not identify childcare as an issue. 

Pedigo said childcare is often an “afterthought issue” in the Texas legislature, leaving it expensive and potentially harmful to a child’s quality of life. 

“Other states have done a lot of policy interventions, Kentucky did this really interesting tax incentive, which we (wrote) about in our paper, incentivizing employers to engage and support childcare, but we haven’t done a lot of that in Texas,” Pedigo said. 

Pedigo said to combat the crisis, the state needs to put more funding into child care and incentivize the private sector.

The Texas Workforce Commission administers the state’s childcare, which Pedigo said puts the focus more on skill training instead of human development. 

Special education freshman Kandace Johansson said the current crisis affects her future as a possible educator in Texas because there are more open jobs. She also said the crisis is a factor in deciding whether or not to raise a family in Texas. 

“(All kids) deserve a good education early in life because it sets you up for middle school and then high school, which sets you up for college,” Johansson said. “(Childcare) really is the foundation of what determines your life and your family life.” 

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