MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Childcare services in Texas are now allowed to reopen per Governor Greg Abbott’s latest order announced on May 18th. However, not all of the childcare services are happy with his new guidelines.
Owner, Glenda Lane, of Envirokids Preschool & Childcare Center in Midland says opening her business had nothing to do with making money. She says the motivation behind the venture was her love for children and her husband’s mission to provide a protective environment for the little ones. They say this June will be the six year anniversary of its opening, but it could also be the month they go out of business.
“Everybody keeps saying this is the new normal. Well if this is the new normal, childcare services can’t stay open with these ratios,” said Lane.
When Lane reached out to her licensing representative, she was told they would receive a citation if they did not abide by Governor Abbott’s orders.
“We’re licensed by the State of Texas to take care of 220 children. With this new mandate in place, we’re only allowed to have, with the space that we have, 126 children,” explained Lane. “Some people are saying we need to hire more people. Well when we go through the system to get our fingerprints, it says there’s no availability for appointment. We had to wait two weeks to get an appointment in Lamesa, which is an hour away.”
Lane says it is simple economics. As more childcare services are forced to downsize or close down, owners have no choice but to raise tuition or turn kids away.
“When he opened it up 50%, he brought more people into work but cut down the amount of children we could take. Just from yesterday morning alone, we turned away 15 children for care.”
Lane says her business is estimated to lose around $400,000 yearly if she operates under these guidelines. But worse, this mandate could potentially hurt blue collar families who now, all of a sudden, cannot afford it.
“We don’t want to have to raise the rates. We know people are suffering as it is.”
This is a sentiment mother, Rani Allen, understands all too well. She says paying for her two children’s tuition at Envirokids is as important as keeping up with her mortgage.
“If I don’t have childcare, I honestly don’t know what I’d do, because I have to come to work. I need to work, I need to support my family. So if they can’t stay open, I don’t know what I would do at this point.”
Allen says she is grateful Envirokids stayed open during the entire pandemic, providing care for children whose parents are essential workers.
“If it worked during the height of the pandemic, then why are we so adamant about changing what was working?”
Meanwhile, Director of Envirokids, Dyanne Gutierrez, says parents can rest assured their children will be in safe hands. The staff has strict protocols in place to minimize any potential risk. These include daily temperature checks, prohibiting outside visitors, and thorough cleaning.
“My own daughter attends this center. For me it’s more than a director level, it’s a personal level,” explained Gutierrez. “Because then, I would be introducing her to that. I want them to know we will take care of their children.”