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As Texas child care centers reopen, reduced enrollment could cost parents more in tuition

With student/teacher enrollments shrinking, daycare owner says its possible increased tuition for families will follow

MCKINNEY, Texas — The state is allowing child care centers to reopen, but a required reduction in student-to-teacher ratios could leave parents with higher child care costs.

Child care centers that decide to reopen must meet certain requirements, like checking temperature and frequent hand-washing and deep cleaning.

A big change is student-to-teacher ratios, especially for children ages 6 and up, which is going from a ratio 26 to 1, down to 10 to 1.

“I just think in the long run it’s going to hurt financially,” said Ricki Lafon, owner of Sunrise Learning Center in McKinney. “Not just us, but the parents because if the numbers stay where they are we’ll have to increase tuition.”

On Monday, Lafon was anticipating which businesses could return during Phase 2 of Gov. Greg Abbott’s reopening plan for Texas.

“Whenever he said open child care, we were like ‘wow’,” Lafon said. “At first I thought – did I hear that right?”

Once he realized he had indeed heard Abbott correctly, Lafon immediately prepared to welcome more kids back.

“We had a couple [of kids] that started back up today and it was great – it was like they never missed a beat," Lafon said.

The center stayed open for essential workers – but was way under their capacity of 90 kids, Lafon said. On Tuesday, he says the center was closer to 40 kids. 

Lafon is president of the Texas Licensed Child Care Association which helps with training and licensing for over 8,000 child care centers across Texas. He says 60 to 70% of child care centers closed when the pandemic hit – so even with approval to reopen, it’s going to take some time.

He hopes parents remain patient as many daycares ramp back up and advises parents to send your kids back when it feels right for you.

“We provided quality safe childcare before your kids went away and we’ve enhanced it now even more – we just want to make sure kids are well taken care of and parents feel comfortable with that,” Lafon said.

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