Testimonial Category: Child Care Advocacy Post

Sharon Knight, Trinity Child Development Center 

Child care is the most important preventative tool to ensure success in a child and in a community. Child care needs funds to help low income WORKING families. A family that has a low income cannot afford child care, and therefore, their own child will not rise to the level of learning and socialization that families who have money will. Please do not ignore the voices of those that cannot speak yet.

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Michelle Meija, parent and GAVA Community Organizer

The reality is that childcare is and has been an issue for a lot of our hardworking families in this city. This pandemic has only exacerbated the issues around childcare, as centers in our neighborhoods close, as families lose their jobs, some who are on the brink of eviction, and are now slowly returning to the workforce only to have lost their places on waiting lists or find out that their centers are no longer there. I am here on behalf of the hardworking parents, hardworking child care providers that cannot be here because of work, who as we speak are cleaning the halls of our schools and prepping meals for the children, those who are teaching our children in our communities. Families who now find themselves in debt and/or trying to fill in childcare gaps. Parents who are now returning to work as more restaurants slowly open. I look forward to seeing the city elevate the conversation of childcare and families, to bring it to the forefront as a critical issue, an issue of city infrastructure and directly related to the city economy.

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Chuck Cohn, Angels Care & Learning Center

I will close with a short story about a young boy named Luke who attended Angels Care & Learning Center for several years. Luke’s family did not have the financial resources to pay for quality childcare, but were lucky enough to qualify for a subsidy from the Texas Workforce Commission (federal dollars). While Luke attended our center, his Mom was able to complete her nursing degree and ultimately become a Registered Nurse. Luke’s Mom has a high-paying job as a Nurse and is currently on the front lines in our local healthcare system. Luke’s Mom was able to move off of the government subsidy and was able to afford to pay our non-subsidized tuition rates. Meanwhile, Luke graduated from Angels Care & Learning Center and by all reports is ahead of his peers in the public school system. Thank you for considering item 62, which can greatly help families like Luke’s and will economically empower all Austinites, regardless of socioeconomic background.

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Laura Olson, Early Childhood & School Health Equity Director with Go Austin Vamos Austin (GAVA)

Mr. Rogers, beloved PBS show host and early childhood champion, once said, “The most important people in a child’s life are that child’s parents and teachers. That means parents and teachers are the most important people in the world.”  I hope we can all agree with that and recognize that parents and child care providers, our children’s first teachers, are in deep distress… these most important people. Who took care of you when you were little when your parents could not? What was the impact? I guarantee, it was important to who you grew up to be.  Underpaid child care providers have been there throughout, but they can’t hold on much longer. They have seen enrollment and staffing drop while adapting to ever-changing health and safety measures. This year many are taking school age children into their fold as trusted and capable guides as parents face uncertainty with schools. They do so much! 

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Joan Altobelli, Vice President Licensed Child Care, YMCA Austin

Child Care is the backbone of the economy; it is vital infrastructure to our economy in Austin, the State of Texas and the National pandemic recovery. The unintended damage done by the necessity of shutting down the City and then allowing the return of child care under strict, expensive precautionary practices, continues to threaten the existence of the entire child care industry. As the owners and providers of child care in our City continue to suffer significant monthly losses due to expenses, we are unwilling to pass that cost onto the parents and unable to bear the expense much longer.

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Patsy Harnage, Bright Beginnings 

COVID-19 has forced changes in the ways I provide care but has not diminished and will not compromise prioritizing the health and safety of the children in my care. However, I am operating with less revenue and increased costs and it is not sustainable. I am not sure how long I will be able to remain open under these conditions. I will only be able to remain open for 12 more weeks under these conditions. I am grateful to be a part of a community that comes together and takes care of each other in times of need. Let’s take care of those who show up each day to take care of our youngest citizens who are Austin’s future leaders, bus drivers, artists, parents, musicians, athletes, farmers, entrepreneurs, organizers, teachers, and yes, Childcare providers!

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