Blog

Child care centers struggle with funding, wages

Today, we’re proud to release the results of the 2014 Early Care and Education Survey – a look at trends across the early care field in our community and is the only one of it’s kind in Central Texas. This year’s data show more of the same positive trends we saw in 2012, but also similar challenges.    Teacher education varies widely depending on where you live Our data indicates that teacher education levels in early childhood education centers vary greatly between the regions of Travis County. In Central and West Austin, the percentage of teachers with at least a bachelor’s degree is nearly double the percentage than in other areas: Additionally, part-time centers reported that 58 percent of their teachers have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development—or related field—versus only 26 percent in full-time, nonprofit centers and 15 percent in full-time, for-profit centers.  The survey also found teacher retention has decreased over the past two years and turnover rates have increased significantly for both full-time and part-time centers.   Parent fees make up the bulk of funding for child care centers – including in low-income areas The survey found that centers, across nearly all regions in Travis County, depend on parent fees for the largest portion of their income. Centers located in East and South Austin use approximately equal percentages from parent fees and public subsidies. This may be part of the reason why the cost of child care is so high – approximately the same as the cost of tuition […]

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[VIDEO] YOU help Austin families thrive

Our friends and neighbors in particular communities are struggling more – in St. John’s, Manor and Dove Springs, families face unique challenges. To help Greater Austin thrive, we focus on these areas.    [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4Dds5ulFns[/youtube]   Learn more about the Salazars, Maldonados or Wynns – and make a gift today to support Austin families.   

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Community Spotlight: Dove Springs

A Neighborhood in Need The Wynn Family lives in Dove Springs, an Austin neighborhood that is southeast of the intersections of I-35 and Ben White, near the airport. The Dove Springs community has a unique set of needs and relies heavily on community services. In fact, one out of every five individuals in Dove Springs uses SNAP to meet their food needs. 20% of Dove Springs relies on SNAP for food needs Anisha and David Wynn are the proud parents of four children, Kayla (13,) D’Maree (8,) D’Maya (5) and De’Ana (3.) To support their family, Anisha and David both work full-time for The City of Austin, each logging as many as 60-hours-per-week. However, making ends meet can still be a challenge. In Austin, a family of four has to make an average of fifty thousand dollars per year just to break even. With the expenses of groceries, rent, child care, car insurance and gas, this family of five has an even tighter budget and there’s rarely enough at the end of the month to save. UWATX Connects Families to Resources Anisha and David worry about what a lack of fiscal security could mean for them in the long run, and what they’ll do if an emergency occurs. Many Austin families, much like the Wynns, are only a few unexpected expenses away from falling behind on their bills. Should a car break down or a child become injured, they may be unable to recover financially. Fortunately, they both work at companies where […]

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A place for families: the Dove Springs community

As Austin grows, many neighborhoods are becoming more predominantly headed by single professionals or other household structures – but Dove Springs remains a place for families. Unfortunately, our friends and neighbors struggle with unemployment and health care challenges, and are still recovering from last year’s flooding.    Dove Springs is a younger community with many families and a growing Hispanic/Latino population The Dove Springs community has very strong Hispanic and Latino roots. The neighborhood has largely been settled by the Hispanic and Latino population for more than a decade and currently 4 out of 5 residents claim that ethnicity. Unlike other neighborhoods that have more seniors, students or young professionals without children, Dove Springs is full of families – which are define by the US census as a household with two or more people related by birth, marriage or adoption. A lower percentage of family households in Dove Springs are married-couple families (59 percent vs. 68 percent in Austin overall) and a higher percentage are headed by single fathers (13 percent vs. 9 percent) or single mothers (29 percent vs. 22 percent), similar to the St. John’s and Manor communities.  People who live in Dove Springs are also typically younger than other City of Austin residents with a full third of residents being under the age of 18.   Many Dove Springs residents are struggling with unemployment  Over the last couple of years, the unemployment rate for Dove Springs has been higher than the unemployment rate in the City of Austin: Dove Springs residents […]

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UWATX Exemplifies Employee Giving

At United Way for Greater Austin, we believe that anyone- regardless of income- can be a philanthropist. Through Employee Giving Campaigns, UWATX provides an opportunity for employees at area businesses to donate a portion of every paycheck to make a positive impact.  We wouldn’t ask others to give if we didn’t give ourselves. UWATX is one of 400+ Austin-area businesses that run an Employee Campaign. Our Building Spirit Committee worked on the logistics behind a week of fun-filled, spirit-building activities to encourage employee participation. This year, campaign focused on the three Austin neighborhoods were our work is centered: Manor, St. John’s and Dove Springs. In planning this week of spirited activities, our goal was to incorporate the neighborhoods that benefit from the donations.   Get everyone excited before campaign starts The week before our campaign, the Spirit Committee hid two sets of Michael Buble concert tickets in the office and sent out an email to staff containing riddles on where to find them. The stakes where high and the hunt was fierce! Building suspense and excitement during the days and weeks leading up to your campaign is a great way to get people thinking about how they plan on participating.   Kickoff the campaign with a fun event and communicate important details On Monday morning, UWATX Staff met over a scrumptious breakfast to discuss the importance of Employee Campaign. We are proud to boast a 97 percent participation rate from our last campaign, and hope to do just as well this year!    Connect your Employee […]

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What a difference a year makes

A little over a year ago, a group of young professionals began meeting and discussing ways that we could make a positive change in some of Austin’s most vulnerable communities. I’m proud to have been part of that group. We’ve had the chance to get to know each other better, help the community, and have a lot of fun along the way. More importantly, we’ve had the chance to be inspired by an amazing group of kids that are working to make Austin greater.  You don’t have to take my word for it:  I’m humbled by the accomplishments of the group over the last year and wanted to share a few of our key initiatives. Volunteering at UWATX’s Manor Summer Program – This year, we had the opportunity to help out with UWATX’s Summer Program at Decker Middle School. In this program, 75 plus low income middle schoolers had the chance to participate in a seven-week program designed to combat the effect of “summer slide.” As noted by Target Graduation Director Nichole Lopez- Riley, ““We know that a lack of summer learning contributes substantially to students falling behind academically across many subjects. This initiative is aimed to provide students with the materials, project-based learning opportunities and access to services they need during the summer break to be successful.” A highlight of the program was Summer Learning Day on June 20. The day was a chance for students in the UWATX Manor Summer Program to interact with volunteers and learn more about how to advocate for their […]

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Making Ends Meet in Manor

Meet the Maldonado Family – they live in the Manor area in Austin, Far East on 290. Benito, Sr. and Leonor are parents to Benito, Jr. (15,) Brenda (12) and Blue Emmy (1 mo.) Like the Salazar Family, they face a unique set of economic challenges and rely on their community for support. Benito, Sr. works two jobs to make ends meet for the family, but it can still be a struggle to manage everyday expenses in addition to the cost of housing and utilities. It takes about fifty thousand dollars for just a family of four to break even in Austin, so the Maldonados rarely have enough money at the end of the month after covering their rent, food, childcare, car insurance, bills and more. The Maldonados aren’t alone – half of all people in the Manor neighborhood spend 1/3 or more of their income on housing. And as temperatures rise during the blistering Texas summer, it can be tricky to keep up with high utility bills. Luckily, the Maldonado family is able to utilize our Navigation Center, where dialing 2-1-1 will connect them to local resources that can help them pay these high bills so that their utilities are not disconnected.  $50K For a family of four to break even in Austin 50%  Renters in Manor who spend 1/3 or more of income on housing The Maldonados have considered using payday loans when they’re behind on bills, but this can cost them $1,000’s in annual fees to predatory […]

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Austin’s growth in focus: the Manor community

As Austin continues to grow, certain corners of our city are seeing huge influxes – and the Manor community is one of them. Since the turn of the millennium, the population in Manor has tripled.    Manor residents are increasingly young and non-white From 2000 to 2012 Manor saw particularly strong growth in its Hispanic and African-American populations, especially compared with the city as a whole.      Moreover, more than a third of Manor residents are under the age of 18 – a 30 percent growth from 2000 to 2012. Much like in St. John’s, many of these residents are low-income.      Manor residents are reaching out for help 13 percent more times this year than last Manor is one of many suburban zip codes in Travis County that has increasingly been reaching out for help to our Navigation Center.  [Tweet “Calls for help to @uwatx from Manor in 2014 are up 13 percent over the first six months of 2013.”] The changing populations are reflected in the types of calls that we receive: callers from Manor are more likely to report health needs or needs related to children than the average 2-1-1 caller. The types of needs being reported to 2-1-1 from the Manor community make sense when considering that the population of economically disadvantaged children at Manor high school alone has tripled along with the population.   Manor residents own their homes and are employed, but services are lacking and housing costs are a burden Overall, our […]

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WLC Spotlight: Daniela Knight

With Parents’ Day 2014 just around the corner, it is UWATX’s pleasure to introduce Daniela Knight, mother of two, Registered Dietician, and recent inductee and executive committee member of Women’s Leadership Council (WLC). Daniela served as a Board Member of Austin NCL in addition to owning Austin Nutritional Education where she provided her expertise on diabetes control, weight loss and healthy eating habits. She also impacted the community through her outstanding work as a Senior Health Educator with The Austin Diagnostic Clinic and as a Clinical Dietician with the Round Rock Hospital. Daniela is excited to be a part of WLC, the most powerful, female-driven philanthropic force for improving early childhood education in Central Texas. For Daniela, being part of WLC is a chance to “get more invested in the community and connect with a diverse group of successful women”  Based on her personal experience as a parent, Daniela has seen first-hand how education and stimulation at a young age can positively impact a child’s success later in life. She views her involvement with WLC as a chance to become even more invested in the community and connect with a diverse group of successful women as powerful force for change. In the past, Daniela and her family were able to contribute to the community through activities with Girl Scouts, Booster Clubs and National Charity League. As her youngest child prepares to graduate from high school, Daniela is exploring new ways of giving back through WLC. Daniela hopes to utilize her public speaking […]

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It takes a lot to thrive as a working family

This is the Salazar family – they live in the St. John’s neighborhood in Austin, near the intersection of I-35 and 183. Like many Austin families, they juggle many challenges – tight budgets, long hours and trying to provide the best for their family – so the Salazars need support from their community. Claudia, the mother, decided to stay at home to care for their children and avoid the high costs of child care while her husband provides for the family by fixing cars. Between transportation to get to work on time, food, bills and rent – there’s barely enough left at the end of each paycheck. During the summer especially, as the temperatures rise, so do water and electric bills – so a time that most families enjoy together is a time of stress in the Salazar home as their finances get even tighter. The Salazars have even considered taking out payday loans just to get along – but these can cost thousands in fees and leave them with even more challenges. But the Salazars can turn to United Way to access safer banking options so they can avoid payday lenders – or call our Navigation Center to connect to summer food programs.  In a couple of years, their daughter Kylie will enter middle school where many students begin to fall behind. The Salazar’s know that for Kylie to stay on the path to graduation, she’ll need support from both of them, she’ll need to not worry about food or how she’ll get […]

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