Delayed school starts, online learning increases demand, questions for North Texas daycares

Delayed school starts and online learning is contributing to an increase in daycare demand.

It's also raising questions about whether daycares are responsible for making sure children do their coursework.

Schools are pushing back start dates in North Texas, and because of that, more parents are seeking childcare, according to industry leaders in both Dallas and Tarrant counties.

“Parents are really starting to say, ‘Gosh, I need some help,’” ChildCareGroup CEO Tori Mannes said.

And as many schools plan to start online, childcare centers now face an ethical dilemma: Are they obligated to lead online learning for students in their care?

“They’re already really going above and beyond to create a safe and healthy place for our children to be, but when you compound that with the fact that our schools are closed at least for the first six weeks or so, it really begs a number of additional questions,” Mannes added.

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Questions like: Is the childcare provider responsible, to either the parents or the school district, for the children getting their work done?

Mannes is meeting with area school leaders to get answers for childcare providers.

“There are a lot of questions to be answered still. A couple that come to mind: Does the center have enough broadband access?” Mannes said. “And how do childcare centers that are used to either doing before school or after school care for school age children, adapt to potentially offering full daycare?”

Bethany Erickson and her husband both work.

Their 9-year-old son, John, is a Dallas ISD 4th grader on the autism spectrum.

“We knew that we would need someone to just sit next to him and make sure that he focused and concentrated and that he didn’t get overwhelmed,” Erickson said.

Their solution is to hire a certified teacher to guide John through online lesson, something the Ericksons are able to afford, though that’s likely not an option for many or most working families.

“For us it was kind of like, here’s all my money, take it,” Erickson added. “We kind of talked about what the school day might look like, and kind of from there decided how many hours we could afford. We’re still going to have to do a little bit of jumping in and having to roll up our sleeves, too.”

Child Care Associates in Fort Worth has compiled a list of similar tutors, an option that is also in demand for many parents.

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