Application deadline is approaching for the free childcare program for service workers

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Nisalee Mills would have paid $1,200 a month for childcare for her 7- and 3-year-old sons had it not been for a local program that covers 100% of those costs for a year.

The free child care program, administered by Workforce Solutions Alamo, was designed to boost employment in restaurants, bars, hotels and retail stores by removing child care as a barrier to service sector workers.

The $43 million program called Service Industry Relief Childcare Funding is funded by the Texas Workforce Commission with federal funding. Alamo Workforce Solutions is the local branch of the state’s workforce commission.

The deadline to register for the program is Wednesday. To apply, click here.

The program is open to workers in the service industry who need childcare to work. To qualify, they must work a minimum of 25 hours per week. Two-parent families must work a total of 50 hours per week and family income must be less than 75% of the state median income. Children must be under 13 or under 19 if disabled to receive child care. Legal citizenship or immigration status is required, and families must reside within the 13-county area served by Workforce Solutions Alamo.

Parents or guardians who work as actors, recreation attendants, fitness trainers, musicians, hotel or resort desk clerks, servers, chefs, cashiers, customer service representatives and sales workers at the retail are also eligible for the program.

Since the start of the program in August 2021, 1,266 families participated in the program, according to Workforce Solutions Alamo, and 1,904 children were enrolled in area daycares.

Mills, an HEB employee and single mother residing in Floresville, said without help from the Service Industry Relief Childcare Funding, she probably wouldn’t be able to work due to high childcare costs.

As part of the program, Mills’ children attend a learning daycare, where her eldest son can study while she is at work and the youngest can prepare for pre-kindergarten.

“I’m grateful,” Mills said. “Don’t be afraid to apply. Once that phone call came [notifying her she had been accepted into the program]it relieved.

The impact of the program on the industries it was designed to help is not yet known; Workforce Solutions Alamo is still awaiting the final results of a status report.

“This is a truly unique opportunity to provide free childcare to members of our community, and we encourage anyone who may be eligible to apply today,” the spokeswoman said. the WSA, Rachel Cochran.

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