Day cares desperate for workers while facing rising costs

“If you could go to McDonald’s, and make $15 dollars an hour, why do you want to work in child care and make $11 an hour?”

San Antonio – Paying for child care is a huge financial burden for families across the board. Donyai Moffatt and LaQuantra Moffatt consider themselves middle class, both college-educated and working in marketing and as a teacher. They’re stretching every dollar to afford care for their three toddlers.

“To me, it’s a mortgage,” Donyai said. “Over a year if I did the math and it’s almost one person’s income, is at least three-fourths of one person’s income.”

They recently moved from a different day care because they felt they were paying a lot for very poor quality care. When they shopped around, some day cares were over $2,500 a month, even one was over $3,200.

They recently had to decide if it was worth it for both of them to work. They felt lucky when they found Books and Bibs Child Care & Learning Academy on the East Side.

Stephanie Gray owns the day care. She started it after a bad experience at a day care with one of her grandchildren. She takes pride in running a good center where children are safe and families can afford it.

“One of my main things is quality care for an affordable price,” Gray said. “If you are in child care, you know that it is one of the lowest paying jobs in the industry.”

It’s been difficult to help more families because of the worker shortage, she explained. She has more space but not enough qualified people applying for the job. reports the average pay for day care teachers in Texas is under $11.

“If you could go to McDonald’s, and make $15 dollars an hour, why do you want to work in child care and make $11 an hour?” she said.

Many of her families receive subsidized child care from the state because they are on the lower-income level and meet the criteria. But, she also helps with diapers and formula to help families she knows are struggling. As for her staff, she also tries to look out for them.

“I try to give them other things like bonuses and, you know, take them to dinner here and there and, you know, different little things like that just to show them that I do truly appreciate them,” she explains.

The Biden administration is looking to invest some $225 billion into making child care more affordable for low and middle-income Americans. Qualifying families would pay no more than 7% of their income for child care for kids under 5-years old. Details on how the money would be distributed have not been released.

The Moffatts say they would gladly take any help that could bring them some financial relief to invest in other things or save for college.

Gray says it would be a welcomed temporary Band-Aid.

“It is not a permanent solution, but it’s helpful. So whatever we can do now, it will be helpful. I don’t know exactly what it would take to make it a permanent fix, but this would definitely help,” Gray said.

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.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.