You are our future, we will not allow the efforts of your parents to be in vain. Quality child care is no longer voluntary. You, who wake up next to your siblings in passed-down pajamas at 4 a.m. before the sunrises, slowly wake up as you listen to your Mom, a single parent, trying to get your siblings and you ready to start the day. No time for breakfast because that would make Mom late for work. It’s okay, you may be offered breakfast at the child care center, where mom takes you and your siblings.
Although mom doesn’t make as much money as she would like, isn’t able to drive you directly to school in a vehicle of her own, or is able to sign you up for after school activities, she will be there to pick you up as soon as she is done with work. Everyday seems just like the last, and Mom is always tired.
You don’t know that times are tough, it is all just the way things are. Even more difficult to understand, you and your siblings are all “lucky” to be in a subsidized child care center while more than 90% of others who qualify wait for a seat in one. This letter is for you and for all the qualifying children who require subsidized child care in order for your parents to make ends meet.
But, good news is coming: you will be able to attend a trustworthy, quality, and Texas Rising Star-certified child care center near your home. We hope that your mom will be able to find peace in your safety, and therefore it can improve your quality of life now and later because mom can now build a future which she hopes you and your siblings will be proud of.
My name is Karyna Valencia, and in the fall of the year 2020, I was working as a home health pediatric medical interpreter. In my daily work schedule, I saw many families live through difficult situations where they all could benefit from a child care provider they could trust. The single mothers especially were at home caring for their children while they struggled to make ends meet.
As a fellow of the Young Women’s Advisory Council, I was given the guidance and opportunity to ask questions about the 87th Legislative Session. Being that it was the first time I had heard of the legislative session, I learned from the ground up that my state legislation was getting ready to create, vote and sign on laws for all Texans to abide by.
The YWAC had a meeting in late December of 2020, where we reviewed how bills in both the Texas House of Representatives and Senate were proposed and voted on. I believed that it was motivation enough for me to be the voice of those families I worked with who were struggling to go to work and provide a safe environment for their children.
Looking back at my own upbringing, I came to the realization that minority communities will always rely on each other to provide what they cannot demand from the state. Often minority communities are made voice-less and distant from those in government who create laws because they have the power two both build and break apart their communities. This being said, the YWAC fellows and I decided to focus on supporting and advocating for our underrepresented communities in our state. Thanks to the education that the YWAC fellows and I received, we pushed an agenda that included the support for improving the quality of childcare centers across our state.
In hopes that my community would have the information and resources available to advocate for themselves, I used my social media platform to educate on the process of bill searching while using the Texas capitol website. It was important for me to create a quick guide to the bill search process and I did so by making a five slide post on Instagram showing the screen shots of each step. I also recorded a video where I shared the Children at Risk (a nonprofit organization) advocacy tool on their website, in order for my community to voice their support for the future of their children through House Bill 2607.
Due to the collaboration of Texans across the state, this bill successfully passed and will be effective by September 1, 2021. The law will require subsidy child care providers to participate in the state’s previously voluntary quality rating and improvement system, Texas Rising Star. With an appropriate phase-in period and increased access to support and coach providers, the quality of care available to the more than 136,000 children currently enrolled in a subsidized program, and those to come, will improve.
Overall, I highly value quality child care because I know that my grandmother did her absolute best caring for my cousins while my uncles and parents worked and if this law had been established when I was young, many young parents like mine could have established themselves and their educational goals better off. This change in law sets a standard for the child care available across our state, improving the future of our under-represented communities. Implementation of H.B. 2607 allows parents the opportunities to improve their education and or job certifications to begin generational wealth in the future of our Texas children.
Karyna Valencia is a Student Physical Therapist at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth, Texas. She grew up in South Dallas and is a first generation College graduate from Texas A&M University. She plans to serve her community in every way she can.