On Wednesday, Fort Bend County Officials announced the extension of a childcare initiative program that provides assistance to families who may be experiencing financial hardship because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Oct.11, if qualified, Fort Bend residents can receive up to $500 vouchers per child in one family.
According to county officials, there are four qualifications to receive the childcare vouchers. Applicants have to be Fort Bend County residents, children must be under the age of 13, the family income has been negatively affected by the pandemic, and the family income falls under the low-to-moderate (LMI) criteria level.
The low-to-moderate income family in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland area is $39,200 for a family of four, according to a 2021 report by the Housing and Urban Development Center. Which differs from the counties 2019 low-to-moderate income level of $61,050 for a family of four.
Because of the financial shift Fort Bend County Judge KP George said this program is about bringing stability to the community.
“Stability means it is good for our citizens and it’s good for our businesses at so many levels,” George said. “We are seeing a genuine need in our society and we wanted to do everything possible to support and help our community.”
In November, Fort Bend County was given $250,000 through the CARES Act to start the program and has helped over 300 families, 540 children and over 80 childcare centers, according to George.
Now with an additional two million dollars officials said they are hoping to help even more families in the area.
“With the added funding…we will allow families that are still not being able to catch up with their accounts and costs at the centers to apply again,” Program Administrator Qaisar Q Iman said. “As well as open it up to more families in the county that need help.”
Additionally, Director of Good Beginnings Childcare Center Jayme Gorka said she saw how the program helped on both fronts as a mother and a childcare provider.
“Childcare is expensive, food, craft supplies, you name it to assist families who are looking for quality childcare,” Gorka said. “As a parent, I had a loss of income. I birthed two twins last year. The child care voucher program has helped me immensely along with some other parents, especially those mothers who are single breadwinners in their home.”
If interested, families can apply for the voucher and other programs on the Fort Bend Pandemic Response website.
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.