El Paso organizations strive to improve child care for low-income families

El Paso News

A recent study reports an estimated 10,800 children under the age of six live in low-income families in the El Paso county. With low levels of third grade reading and low high school graduation rates, working families lack access to affordable quality child care.

CHILDREN AT RISK is an organization under the Early Childhood Education Initiatives suggests it is crucial to invest in children education from birth to age three to propel local economy.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, leaders from CHILDREN AT RISK, local leaders and organizations spoke at the Paso Del Norte Children’s Development Center about the suggestions this research recommends to the El Paso region.

Director of Early Childhood Education Initiatives, Shay Everitt suggested El Paso leaders to prioritize early childhood education and to improve the quality of existing facilities.

“Only 17 percent of childcare providers are certified quality through our state’s quality rating system, Texas Rising Star,” Everitt said. “So that means only one in five centers or childcare providers, whether it’s a center or a home are certified quality.”

The Texas Rising Star guidelines are used by child care contractor staff to assess and provide technical assistance to providers pursuing Texas Rising Star provider certification.

At the press conference, CHILDREN AT RISK said the low quality of child care facilities available limits a child’s chances of brain development, which hurts the economy in the long run.

Over a six month period across the U.S., 45% of parents miss work at least once due to child care disruptions, costing American businesses approximately $4.4 billion every year, according to CHILDREN AT RISK research. Lack of affordable child care forces many families to reduce hours or drop out of the workforce, which results in an estimated $8.3 billion annually in lost wages.

Organization leaders plan to meet with legislators to show the importance of early childhood education in El Paso.

CHILDREN AT RISK stopped in El Paso as part of a nine-city tour across the state of Texas, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.