Close to 1,700 Fort Bend families will have benefited from the county’s Childcare Voucher Program by the time it wraps up in 2023.
This number corresponds to the total number of vouchers that will have been issued to help both children of qualifying families and the qualifying child care facilities in Fort Bend under the Childcare Voucher Program administered by the county’s Program Administrator, Qaiser “Q” Imam.
Imam updated county commissioners on July 5 and presented what he called a historical context relating to the program’s status.
The voucher program is funded by the federal CARES Act aid given to the county.
The childcare assistance is provided for a three-month period per child and funds backed by issued vouchers have been paid to child care facilities for children, up to three of them of each qualifying family, impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic. The funds are intended to help offset childcare costs in the face of financial instability, and ultimately have ended up benefitting families with essential workers, especially when the program first began, those returning or looking for work, and also the funds have helped the child care facilities stay in business.
Imam indicated that families applied for the vouchers. They showed reduced wages proof, and the vouchers were then issued to them and used for placement of their children at participating licensed childcare facilities in Fort Bend County. The child care facilities were then paid with funds allocated for each voucher issued to the child(ren) of a qualifying family.
A pilot program referred to as Phase 1 started with $226,000 for funding 452 vouchers at $500 per voucher.
Phase 2 which began last fall represented an enhancement of the program with an additional $1,814,000, funding a total of 1,209 vouchers at $1,500 per voucher. The commissioner’s court authorized that initiative and also allocated a $250,000 adjustment.
Imam explained that redemption of the voucher funds has been occurring at about 75 percent, which occurrence was explained by things such as a parent not using a voucher or a center could have ended up being beyond Fort Bend County or something else.
He said that about 1,164 vouchers have been issued as of the time of the updated report to commissioners. It is expected that all the money funded for the operation of the program will have been expended when it comes to an end by April 2023.