North Houston day care closing, leaving parents scrambling and employees out of work

Pooja Lodhia Image
Friday, November 17, 2023
Houston day care closing leaves parents to 'start from scratch'
Stay & Play Day Care Center on Aldine Bender is closing on Friday as the owner says she can't afford to stay open, sending parents scrambling.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A north Houston day care is closing Friday, sending parents scrambling to find child care and employees out of work as we head into the holiday season.

The owner says she can't afford to stay open since federal funding expired Sept. 30.

State legislators considered but eventually decided not to add day care funding to the state budget for the next two years.

Day care funding is not an issue the governor has prioritized, and there are no special legislative sessions or other opportunities for funding planned.

Stay & Play Day Care Center No. 1 on Aldine Bender in north Houston is like a second home for 4-year-old Aurora Seller. She's been going there since she was a baby.

"You just have a peace of mind, and then the peace of mind is lost, and you start from scratch," her father, Eric Seller, said.

"We had a good routine, a good system," the young girl's mother, Angelique Seller, added. "And when that system falls apart, you're in a panic, and do I keep my job?'

Stay and Play has served Houston for 45 years. Just a few months ago, there were 200 kids enrolled at two locations.

The day care opened 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and even provided transportation for school-aged kids. But operations have gotten more expensive, and in many cases, they aren't able to pay higher costs.

So, starting Friday, the company's second location will be closed, and the first will only serve 23 kids.

"They're (parents) texting me, they're calling me, they're like, 'What are we going to do?' Most of the babies have been here since they were in the infant room," Melanie Munoz, the assistant director of the day care, said.

"When we looked in a 20-mile radius, this was the only place that opened before 6 (a.m.)," Eric Seller said. "This was the only place, and that's why I'm here fighting."

"I'm a single parent, a single mother of three," parent Hazel Shepherd said. "The scheduling was perfect. I have to be at work at 6:30 in the morning."

On Friday, 26 employees will say goodbye, leaving behind only six workers. The plan is to eventually hire them back, but nobody can predict future funding.

"You can't support a day care that's helping us parents work and be able to provide for our children, but you can build a stadium down the street," Shepherd said. "It doesn't make any sense to me. It makes it really hard, and it's hurtful."

"It's like everything they do is affecting us," Munoz said. "They're up there living the life, and we're down here just like, what are we going to do (Friday)?"

The Sellers have started a GoFundMe to raise money for parents.

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