Service sector

Texas began quietly offering free childcare to service workers late last year

Last October, the state of Texas quietly rolled out a crucial safety net for thousands of parents working in the service sector: free child care. Under the Service Industry Recovery Child Care program, the state pays a stipend to state-licensed child care providers for parents earning 75% or less of the Texas median income and working at least 25 hours in restaurants, bars and grocery stores, among others. works. Eater reports that two years into the pandemic, the restaurant and retail industries continue to bemoan staffing challenges. But in addition to poor pay and benefits or health issues, workers regularly cited childcare as a major factor hindering their ability to return to their old jobs. The service sector did not fully understand the needs of parents before Covid (a persistent problem during the pandemic), with many companies not offering paid parental leave or time off to care for children sick. And now the price of daycare has skyrocketed, with a 2021 Lending Tree report estimating that the annual cost of center-based childcare has risen 41% per child compared to pre-pandemic prices. Maybe with this program some parents in Texas can sleep a little easier at night. —Matthew Sedacca