Qualified Restaurant & Bar Industry Workers Can Get Up to a Free Year of Childcare

child care for Harris County service industry workers

It’s no secret that working in restaurants, bars and related hospitality businesses can be tough when you’re a parent. In addition to not necessarily having a 9-to-5 work schedule, child care costs can take a significant percentage of income. However, thanks to pandemic relief funds, hospitality industry workers who qualify can get up to a year of childcare for free. The program is called Service Industry Recovery Child Care. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis held a news conference yesterday to make more people aware of the available relief. The deadline to apply is March 31. You can watch the press conference below.

Specific businesses that Hidalgo cited where workers may qualify include grocery stores, restaurants, bars, car dealerships, clothing stores, furniture stores and gas stations. In addition, artists may qualify. During the press conference, Ellis estimated that there are around 10,000 workers who could qualify but have not yet filled out the application. Assistance is available not just for parents in Harris County, but also Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker and Waller counties.

Here are specific requirements to qualify for the child care assistance:

  • At least one parent must be currently employed or entering employment in a business that falls under one of the following NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) categories: Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation (NAICS 71), Accommodation and Food Services (NAICS 72) or Retail Trade (NAICS 44-45).
  • The parent requires child care services in order to work.
  • A single parent (per household) must be working a minimum of 25 hours per week and two parents together must be working a total of 50 hours per week.
  • Kids must be under age 13 (age 19 if disabled), be United States citizens (or have legal immigration status) and
    live with a family within the Gulf Coast local workforce development area.
  • The family gross income is at or below the 75% of the State Median Income (SMI). There’s a chart online to determine if parents are under the threshold. Some examples: a single parent with a child must make $3,629 or less monthly, or $43,549 annually, while a two-parent family with two kids must make less than $5,337 monthly or  $64,043 annually to qualify.

If an application is approved, a parent can select a childcare provider from one participating in the program, and payment to the provider is sent to them directly from the fund.

Full details and links to apply in English or Spanish are available at the Workforce Solutions website.

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