State Senator Royce West Promotes Childcare Solutions for Dallas’ Essential Workers

Michael Wood, Manager, Education & Workforce

During a virtual town hall on Wednesday, April 1, Senator Royce West highlighted new statewide resources for North Texas childcare providers to sustain operations and provide crucial services for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Senator West was joined by Reagan Miller, Director of Child Care and Early Learning for the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), and Laurie Larrea, President & CEO of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.

The most notable resource is the Frontline Child Care Portal, a new statewide platform that connects workers in essential industries with licensed childcare providers with open spots. The portal sources real-time data from childcare providers and allows essential workers to identify programs with openings near their home or work through a ZIP code search.

To further ensure essential workers have access to childcare, TWC has extended special eligibility for Texas’ subsidized childcare program, enabling participation if parents self-attest to current employment in an essential industry and report household income at or below 150% of the state median income.

However, many providers in the state’s subsidy system have closed their doors due to declining enrollment. To prevent further and potentially permanent closures, TWC has committed $40 million statewide to temporarily fund subsidy providers, regardless of their operational status, at their enrollment levels before the outbreak. These funds will also cover costs associated with enrolling children of essential workers.

Still, TWC and local workforce boards encourage essential workers to keep their children at home or with neighbors or relatives, if possible. Otherwise, these new resources will ensure that neither cost nor availability is a barrier to accessing safe childcare for essential workers and offer much-needed financial stability to childcare providers during this uncertain time.