GRAPEVINE (CBSNewsTexas.com) – Less kids, smaller staff, empty classrooms.
It's the reality of what a lot of childcare facilities in Texas look like these days.
David Feigen is with Texans care for Children, a nonprofit, nonpartisan children's advocacy and research organization.
"Texas is facing a childcare crisis," Feigen said. "Parents can't find enough high-quality childcare, they can't afford the childcare they do find, and then the programs themselves don't have the resources they need to stay open, hire and retain the resources they need."
The pandemic didn't help the situation. Many facilities were subsidized for it, but those funds, or about to come to a halt.
"The funding is drying up into the summer...they're spending the little money they have left. It's causing us to hit a crisis point."
According to a recent survey by the Texas Association for the Education of Young Children, 44% of responding childcare programs say their program is likely or maybe likely to close within the next year.
Most facilities need a Hail Mary. There was an attempt to do that this legislative session: a $2.3 billion proposal to help provide the industry. But unfortunately, it didn't pass.
"We were very disappointed the legislature didn't pass any significant funding to begin dealing with the scale of the crisis in our state," Feigen said.
It's why he says creative efforts are needed now more than ever.
Staff at living word Lutheran Church in Grapevine are opening a free tuition preschool this fall and are currently taking applications for 45 kids.
They call it "Love One Another Preschool." Their mission is to do just that – love and help those who can't afford preschool options.
If that's you, they say they'd love to help.
"Preschool in general is a very costly experience," said Chris Anderson, the preschool's director. "We want to reach out to the community and provide this as a service."
Feigen says these local efforts are critical.
"They are a critical part of this, because it's not one size fits all...we need faith based programs, home based programs...etc." he said.
Feigen knows it's not a long term solution, and so does the church.
It won't save the world, but the hope is that it does save a few families worlds.
The church hopes they can inspire others in the area to open up similar programs.
If you're looking to apply to the free preschool you can do so here.
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