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Child care deserts in Texas

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Early child care plays a pivotal role in a child's development, shaping their cognitive, emotional, and social growth. During the formative years, children undergo rapid brain development, making quality early care crucial for establishing a strong foundation for lifelong learning and well-being. Access to enriching early childhood environments helps children develop critical skills, such as language, problem-solving, and social interactions, which are essential for academic success and emotional resilience.

However, the rise of child care deserts in Texas poses a significant challenge. Child care deserts are areas where there are insufficient child care options to meet the demand, leaving many families without access to affordable, high-quality care. This issue disproportionately affects rural and low-income communities, exacerbating educational and social inequalities. In Texas, where the population is growing rapidly, the shortage of child care facilities can hinder children's development and strain working parents, who may be forced to choose between employment and adequate care for their children.

According to Children at Risk, a childcare desert is any area where there is three times the number of children under the age of six than there are child care seats in a certain zip code. In Texas alone, Children at Risk recently shared data showing that 333 zip codes represent child care deserts. According to Children at Risk a subsidized child care desert is any area where Zip codes with at least 30 low-income children, ages 0-5, where the demand for subsidized child care is three times greater or more than the supply of subsidized child care.

Kim Kofron is the Senior Director of Education for CHILDREN AT RISK, a statewide advocacy organization in Texas.

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*This interview will be recorded on Thursday, May 30, 2024.

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David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi