Fort Bend County families will be able to apply for hundreds in childcare assistance

RICHMOND, Texas (KTRK) -- New programs will help families pay for childcare, but parents may run into a problem finding a place because of the labor shortage.

FORT BEND COUNTY ADDS $2 MILLION TO ITS CHILDCARE PROGRAM

Paying for childcare isn't cheap. A study from last year showed the average cost per family was more than $700 a month. It's a price Jayme Gorka knows well.

"Childcare is expensive," Gorka said. "Childcare centers have to allot for food, craft supplies, you name it ... to assist families with quality childcare."

The mom of four was impacted by the pandemic, but she was able to utilize childcare through a Fort Bend County program.

"The childcare voucher program has helped me immensely, as well as some other parents, especially those single mothers who are breadwinners in their home," Gorka recalled.

The program helped more than 300 families, but it ran out of money. That changes next week, as another $2 million was added.

Fort Bend County parents with kids under the age of 13, who meet the income requirement, and were impacted by the pandemic can apply.

"Many people came to me and told me we don't have money to pay the childcare costs so that they're staying home," Fort Bend County Judge KP George explained.

Applications will be accepted starting Monday, Oct. 11.

CHILDCARE ASSISTANCE OUTSIDE OF FORT BEND COUNTY

If you're not in Fort Bend County, Workforce Solutions has three childcare scholarships.

There's 90-day support if you're unemployed. A year-long scholarship if you're working or going to school, and a new program to help service workers that completely covers childcare for a year.

"It is very rare that we're able to wave that parent share of cost and cover 100% of the cost," Workforce Solutions spokesperson Michelle Castrow said. "So, it's incredibly rare."

In order to receive the help, you must meet income requirements and live in southeast Texas.

"We're hoping, by providing these childcare scholarships, we can support these businesses in their recovery," Castrow explained.

CHILDCARE CENTERS STRUGGLING TO ACCEPT NEW CLIENTS DUE TO THE LABOR SHORTAGE

During the Fort Bend County news conference on the childcare program, industry experts expressed concerns about labor shortages impacting them from accepting new kids.

"If a new person comes, we'll have to put them on a waiting list," said Kids R Kids owner Arun Singh. "We have multiple centers. We can look at where they can be accommodated."

The problem childcare owners say is there are not enough workers.

"This is a real factor," Singh said. "We are really constrained. Not just us, all of the childcare providers. We are in a big constraint at this time."

It's a constraint that is presenting opportunities. Workforce Solutions said there are a lot of openings in childcare settings. If you want to teach, you need education beyond high school. But there are other positions you can fill.

"Those positions typically pay somewhere between $11 to $14 [per hour] to start," Castrow explained. "The requirements are relatively simple. You do have to have a high school diploma or a GED. You do have to have a clean background because you will be working with children."

If you're having issues finding a childcare location, visit the child care website, and you'll be able to find facilities in Houston.

For other parts of Texas, click here.

For more updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright Β© 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.