DALLAS - Child care has been available for essential workers in Texas, but it is scarce.
And with a partial reopening soon coming for non-essential businesses, laid off parents unable to return to work because of a lack of child care wonder what will happen to their unemployment benefits.
It's a tough situation. People who own businesses or wait tables are having to turn down jobs getting back to work to operate their own childcare.
Retailers can partially reopen Friday in Texas, but Lindsey Munchrath won’t be opening the doors at Beatnik in Oak Cliff.
“I have a child. His daycare isn’t open right now,” she said.
Although Governor Greg Abbott gave the go-ahead to reopen restaurants, retail stores, malls and movie theaters Friday at quarter capacity, he did not expand childcare access to all of those workers.
The Texas Workforce Commission explained in a statement Wednesday that “child care operations may remain open only to serve children whose parent is considered an ‘essential worker.’ Just because a business is now open does not necessarily mean that it is considered ‘essential.’”
Child Care Associates CEO Kara Waddell has helped 450 frontline workers get 90 days of free childcare in Tarrant County.
Crystal Kellan is one of those frontline workers who received help after applying online at frontlinechildcare.texas.gov.
“It’s very much a huge relief,” she said.
TWC is now considering case-by-case benefits waivers for parents who cannot return to work for reasons like lack of childcare, even though their job may be back in business.
Typically, someone who refuses a job cannot receive unemployment. That could change in these circumstances.
Workers without childcare are struggling to balance both a bottom line and a family.
“I know I need to open to keep my business alive. And if everybody else opens, I feel the pressure to need to do it as well,” Munchchrath said. “But a lot of business owners in this area aren’t parents.”
Childcare facilities are also now following new safety precautions. Some are taking children’s' temperatures daily at drop-off, spacing out children during naptime and designating one person for pick-up to reduce exposure.