Child care providers in Fort Bend County surprised more people aren't taking advantage of assistance

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021
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After adding millions for childcare relief, providers are surprised more parents aren't taking advantage of the program.

RICHMOND, Texas (KTRK) -- After adding millions for child care relief, providers are surprised more parents aren't taking advantage of the program.

There are several programs to help Fort Bend County neighbors, from COVID-19 relief bills passed in D.C. to rent, small businesses, and child care. But some are wondering, where are the applicants?

"There's a good and not so good," Kids R Kids CEO, Arun Singh said.

Singh runs Kids R Kids day care in Rosenberg. He joined county leaders in October when $2 million was added to a child care voucher program.

"We were thinking it was going to be more widespread," Singh recalled. "Not many people will be able to take advantage of it. Somehow I don't know if the criteria is too stringent or people don't know about it."

More than 700 children have received vouchers, but there's still more than $1 million available.

What's so confusing to business owners is that you can get a lot of help. Per child, the county's program gives families $500. It goes up to three kids, which means families could get $1,500. It's not just one month either. Families can get help for up to three months, which means if they have three kids they can get $4,500 in assistance.

County commissioners got an update on other COVID relief programs on Tuesday. With the rent and mortgage program, $42.5M has been allocated, helping 9,080 families.

There's a small business program too in which $48 million has already been allocated, helping 2,962 businesses and protecting 14,000 jobs. With the child care voucher program, $715,000 has been distributed and has helped 737 children.

County leaders hope to get more help out to more neighbors soon. They plan to launch new websites and dashboards where neighbors can learn about programs.

"By the beginning of the year, you'll see all the transparency of all the programs that you run so anyone in the county can see these metrics," MPACT Strategic Consulting president, Spurgeon Robinson explained to county commissioners during Tuesday's meeting.

The county plans to partner with nonprofit organizations in 2022 to reach more people too. Singh said he's had to educate clients about the program and let them know it's OK if they need assistance.

"People should not assume," Singh said. "There is no harm done. There is no shame in that part. Just go and ask for it."

Programs that launched nearly two years ago, will still be around in 2022 as neighbors recover from the pandemic.

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