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Staff shortages, center closures, and higher prices have led to a nationwide increase in child care deserts

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Davies, David Martin
Publication Date: 
20 Sep 2022


WEDNESDAY on "The Source" — More than half of Texas counties qualify as a child care desert. Areas labeled as child care deserts have few if any providers that are available to meet the capacity needs of families in that specific location.

Eight percent of child care providers have permanently closed since the pandemic, according to Texas Health and Human Services. Children at Risk reports that Bexar County alone has lost more than 20% of its child care centers.

Throughout the pandemic, middle and low-income families experienced difficulties with the rising cost of tuition. Enrollment has waned, and centers have had trouble replacing qualified staff.

Where are San Antonio’s child care deserts? What efforts are being made to close the provider gap? How much is Texas losing per year because of child care deserts?

How do child care deserts impact the economy? If parents can not find affordable care, what options are left? What else defines a child care desert?


  • Kim Kofron, director of Early Childhood Education for Children at Risk
  • Elizabeth E. Davis, professor of Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota