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20 zip codes in Dallas-Fort Worth deemed "child care deserts"

20 zip codes in Dallas-Fort Worth deemed “child care deserts”
20 zip codes in Dallas-Fort Worth deemed “child care deserts” 02:17

NORTH TEXAS – New data shows 20 zip codes in Dallas-Fort Worth are considered "child care deserts," where there are too few quality child care centers to meet demand.

The research and advocacy nonprofit CHILDREN AT RISK deems a zip code to be a child care desert if the number of children under age 6 with working parents is three times greater than the licensed capacity of child care providers in the area.

Across Texas, there are 333 zip codes classified as child care deserts.

"And when we look at low income working families specifically, there are 650 child care deserts, making it more difficult for low-income families to find child care to allow them to go work," said Kim Kofron, the senior director of CHILDREN AT RISK.

If they can find child care, the expense can be overwhelming.

There are nearly 100,000 children in the state on the waitlist for financial help, according to CHILDREN AT RISK.

Receiving a subsidy for child care was only half the battle for Cassandra Duran, a single mom of two who works for the City of Dallas.

"It's just really hard when you have a daycare in mind and you go and talk to them, and you tell them, 'Oh, I have the subsidy program' and they say, 'Sorry, we don't accept that,'" she said. "It's just a huge door slam in the face."

Finding affordable, quality child care for her 4-year-old daughter has been a struggle.

"I thought I was going to have to end my job and find a work from home position," Duran said. "Child care is just a big deal, and quality childcare is hard to find, especially in the area that I live, which is Oak Cliff."

Parts of Oak Cliff are considered to be child care deserts.

This problem not only hurts working families, but employers too. The Texas economy loses more than $9 billion every year because of child care issues, according to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"Both public and private employers are calling in, saying 'What can we do for our staff? We're not able to find employees and certainly cannot keep them because of child care,'" said Melanie Rubin with the North Texas Early Learning Alliance.

Advocates are calling on state lawmakers to make significant financial investment in early childhood education, urging decisionmakers to consider the following actions as they prepare for the 89th Legislative Session. 

  •  Secure revenue to reduce child care deserts and waiting lists for Texas' working families by aligning the capacity of providers (supply) to the communities who truly need it (demand).
  •  Address reimbursement rates for child care providers, allowing them to serve more children in low-income working families.
  • Increase support for home-based providers to reduce child care deserts.

"Please, if you can open up a daycare in these deserts, please," said Duran. "I know and believe that there are quality care centers out there. I just hope they can be more accessible to moms like me."

Finally, some key takeaways for Dallas/Fort Worth from the latest CHILDREN AT RISK data:

  • There are 20 child care deserts and 96 child care subsidy deserts for low-income working families in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
  • There are just 25.1 subsidized child care seats per 100 low-income working families in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, which is 15% below the statewide trend.
  • The number of subsidized child care seats in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has decreased by 7% since 2022.
  • There are just 12.2 quality child care seats per 100 low-income working families, representing a 5% decrease from 2022.
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