Several Lubbock daycare providers say their enrollment numbers are drastically decreasing. They blame the State's Workforce Commission Program for changes it has made in providing government assistance to low income families using daycare.
In May 2010, the Texas State Workforce Commission made changes to it's Child Care Services. Instead of allowing daycares to bill the state for children using the program, they started issuing parents a small swipe card to use each time they drop their child off at daycare.
Laila Sabet, owner of New World Christian Learning Center, says it's not working as well as she had hoped.
"Before, we used to do it manually, fill out the paperwork of who came in and all the details and we would send it in. But this is electronic so it's supposed to be more streamlined," Sabet said.
Sabet says many times parents aren't swiping the cards when they are supposed to.
"A lot of the parents lose their cards, don't get them in the mail and a lot of them, with as busy as their lives are, don't swipe," Sabet said.
Sometimes, parents forget their cards or lose them. However, Christy Black, with the Texas Workforce Commission says, after five days of no swipe, the State stops funding the child. Then, it becomes the parent's responsibility to pay for the funding.
"If there's 5 days with no swipe card system used, and they have not called us, then we're not going to pay for those days. Then, it's going to be the parent's responsibility to pay the daycare facility for that," Black said.
Black says the childcare automation tracking system is supposed to make things more accurate and streamlined. One thing it's been able to cut down on is fraud. Instead of letting daycares simply bill the state for the children they are caring for, they use the cards and rely on parents.
"Now it's the parent's responsibility. They get to report their own child's attendance," Black said.
However, Sabet says the process is hard to manage because daycares have to allocate an employee to be in charge of the swipes, to make sure parents are using them.
"We're expected to do more work but we get less money back," Sabet said.
Sabet says the frustration and lack of swipes, has decreased the enrollment at her daycare. She says since the automated cards became a requirement, her daycare has seen a decline of at least 25%. Other daycares KCBD contacted, said they had also seen drastic declines.
Sabet says her daycare is making it financially, but she is thankful to have a savings account to help supplement the loss of clients she has had.
"But, if it continues another year or two years, we might have to start cutting from the curriculum," Sabet said.
Black says she understands some of the frustrations, but believes the swipe cards mandated by the State are effective. She says a the State never drops a funding for a child for no reason.
"The only reason that we drop care is if they're just not using the system," Black said.
Sabet and several other daycare owners have come together and formed a committee of sorts, to see if there are any changes they can make to the program. Their next meeting is on December 29th and they hope to have as many Lubbock daycare providers participate, as possible.