Austin Public Health has released an interactive map showing child care and pre-K facilities throughout Travis County, and indicating which centers have received certain national or state accreditation.
Council Member Delia Garza said where child care centers are located in the city affects everyone – not just those with young children.
“When we talk about trying to tackle traffic and congestion, we have to think of other ways," she said, "and one way is to help bring child care closer to families, so they’re not driving far.”
In September, the City Council asked staff to assess the need for high-quality and affordable child care centers in Austin. Staff included the map Tuesday in a presentation to council members, highlighting gaps in each district and pointing out how many of the centers are considered “high quality.”
Staff cautioned that “high quality” means only that a center has received at least 1 of 3 voluntary accreditations.
Districts 1 and 3, which make up most of Central East Austin, each had 11 high-quality child care centers, the most of the city’s districts.
Council representatives from North Central Austin and Southeast Austin, or Districts 2 and 4, pointed out that their districts lacked high-quality centers and centers overall – an oversight considering that Districts 2 and 4 have the highest percentage of children under 10, according to the most recent census data.
“It’s always really stark to me … just how skewed it is how many low-income children really live so heavily in Districts 2 and 4,” said Greg Casar, who represents a district where city staff say 1 in 4 children is from a low-income family.
Staff brought up potential policy changes to encourage the building of more high-quality child care centers throughout the city, including waiving development fees for construction and changing zoning regulations to make it easier to build centers in more parts of the city.
Mayor Steve Adler urged City Manager Spencer Cronk to consider staff's recommendations as he goes about writing the new budget, which will take effect Oct. 1.