Reopening restrictions on child care centers may bring challenges for some working families

Announcement from governor puts some day care owners in a bind

Day care operators say they were thrown in a loop when Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that day care facilities could open immediately with restrictions detailed in a 13-page document.

SAN ANTONIO – Day care operators say they were surprised when Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that day care facilities could open immediately with restrictions detailed in a 13-page document.

Books and Bibs owner Stephanie Gray said she wasn’t ready based on the guidelines that she had to clarify.

“When the governor announced yesterday (to) open immediately, my phone started ringing,” she said.

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Calls came from parents who were eager to get back to work and drop off their kids.

After reading the guidelines, Gray said there are some adjustments that she’ll have to make to the number of kids she can have and the capacity of her facility. On her waiting list are about 40 kids, but about 15 will have to be turned away based on the ratio guidelines, she said.

Gray said she also has to hire one more staff member to be compliant, but she’s losing out on 15 paying customers.

“I'm going to have to tell them, even though you've been waiting for a month and a half, I can't bring you back because I will be out of ratio. I can't defy that rule because that's a deficiency that goes against my license,” she said.

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Gray remained opened during the closure, serving only essential workers. But even some of those clients might have to wait for a call until she can hire more staff.

Gray said she hasn’t yet figured out a formula to see which families get to stay.

Lauren Pepping, a working mom, said she’s also on hold, waiting to see if the summer day care program for her kids will be available after Abbott announced the changes.

“With the new changes and the ratios, they basically had to scrap that and change everything and re-enroll,” Pepping said.

She runs her own business, and her husband also works, but they’ve had to alternate their schedules to care for their kids. She knows other parents are in similar situations.

“You know, we're all struggling to find the right answer and solution,” Pepping said.

The people and grandparents Pepping’s used to relying on are also out of rotation due to their high-risk age.

Gray said it’s going to be a rough road ahead for families.

“For parents that are having an issue with this new ratio, call the governor. Call, because our voices need to be heard,” she said. “They may not know how this is adversely affecting us.”

Other day cares say the sudden reopening announcement is putting them in a bind. Owners are calling up staff, finding food and cleaning supplies to get ready to reopen.

Click here for the list of guidelines child care centers are required to follow.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Before starting KSAT in 2017, Lee was a photojournalist at KENS 5, where he won a Lone Star Emmy in 2014 for Best Weather Segment. In 2009 and 2010 Lee garnered first-place awards with the Texas Association of Broadcasters for Best Investigative Series in College Station, as well as winning first place for Staff Photojournalism in 2011 at KBTX.