Changes to Texas day cares stir controversy

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Sara Story - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV)- It's closer supervision, but it could mean higher prices for day care. A state agency is proposing lowering the required number of children that each day care worker is responsible for. However, some day care workers say this would hurt their bottom line without improving education.

They watch over the little ones when you can't. Day care centers, like First Christian Church Mother's Day Out, provide the correct amount of supervision, according to Texas guidelines. "Our infants are four to one teacher. The 2-year-olds are 11 to one. The 3-year-olds are 15 to one," said Suzy Mendolia, the Assistant Director of First Christian Church Mother's Day Out and Pre-school.

This soon may not be enough. A state agency is trying to lower child to staff ratio.

"I think they need more teachers per child, honestly. Kids get bit a lot and injured, and I think that is because of a lack of supervision," said Lacie Abercrombie, an East Texas mom. Amanda Brown, a mom and day care worker, agreed. "I enjoy what I do. I love those 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, and I would take less money to maybe have another teacher in there so that we could double team and teach them more and have more fun."

Day care directors state-wide say the new rules would hurt business. "You are either going to have to turn children away or you are going to have to hire more teachers, which is not cost effective in the child care industry," said Mendolia.

Clara Gilbert is the supervisor of Tyler First Kidz Place Day Care. She says her day care caters to low-income families by keeping fees below average. "If I had to get more teachers, then we couldn't service that many, and then we are unable to do that, and we would probably have to close the day care," said Gilbert.

"Something does need to give so the moms who can't afford more, their children are still getting the proper care, " said Danielle Crain, an East Texas mom.

A public hearing was held in Austin on Tuesday, but no final decision was made on the proposed changes. The state's attorney general must review them.

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