BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – A growing number of families in south Bexar County are struggling to find quality child care close to where they live, but Pre-K 4 SA is working to build sustainable child care for families in that area while improving existing centers.
Samantha Bermea wants her 1-year-old daughter to have an educational experience when she drops her daughter off at day care. However, she needs help finding a quality daycare near her South Side home.
“Close to my home, I’ve really never seen much child care. And if I have, it’s just to me, they don’t look like day cares. Even on the outside doesn’t really look presentable,” Bermea said.
Bermea is not alone. The nonprofit Children at Risk found several ZIP codes in south Bexar County have less than five child care facilities for every 100 children.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, Bexar County lost nearly 20% of its child care providers.
“It’s a problem, especially if you don’t have the transportation to travel to high-quality places,” Bermea said.
To alleviate south Bexar County’s child care desert, Pre-K 4 SA is moving its child care center from New Braunfels to Southeast Loop 410.
Pre-K 4 SA is also helping existing day care centers find sustainable business models while improving their care. It’s called the shared services alliance.
Gloria Gonzales, director of Madison Square Child Development Center, said her biggest challenge is retaining staff members.
The state requires child care providers to have a high school degree.
The alliance provides CDA child care training and a $1,500 incentive for teachers to stay after receiving that certification.
“So that’s a big incentive to have teachers stay and receive their credentials. Those are some of the biggest pluses for me,” Gonzales said.
For mothers like Bermea, trained staff means a better experience for her growing daughter.
“I want my daughter to learn. I want her to reach different milestones. It’s not just for work. It’s for her,” Bermea said.