The Early Childhood Action Network, part of the Permian Basin Education Partnership, has begun to lay the groundwork for a study on the availability and quality of child care facilities.
The landscape analysis was mentioned in an ECAN meeting at the Region 18 Education Service Center on Wednesday.
Education partnership program coordinator Mike Mills said child care is directly linked to the workforce. He added that there are many desert areas in the Permian Basin that have a direct impact on the economy, the job market and small and large businesses.
“So that’s important information… to understand what’s going on,” Mills said.
Development coordinator Becca Myers said other things to cover in the analysis are the number of daycares, their capacity, and how many are Texas Rising Star certified.
Myers said this would establish a baseline “and then we can set targets for how many to add … or help existing ones get accredited for quality and certification.”
Also find out how many 3- and 4-year-olds are eligible for preschool and how many are currently served in larger school districts, numbers from Head Start, Early Head Start, preschool partnerships as the Texas Education Agency and Workforce. Commission have set up, formally or informally.
“We evaluate them. Midland College Pre-K Academy and the Odessa Y Early Learning Center are an example. Right now that’s our baseline… so we can always increase and add; from the pay gap analysis for daycares and staff to the certification of directors and all the things that go into certifying good daycare directors, ”Myers said.
She added that the information will be part of a research study.
“There will definitely be several community conversations once we get the results publicly and possibly across various platforms,” Myers said.
“We started the initial research from December to April, so by May at the latest the community conversations should be ready,” she added.
Dividing into small groups, the Early Childhood Action Network looked at several scenarios of families and people who needed help and discussed which agencies they could use.
Those present in person worked together and those who participated via Zoom also worked together.
Mills said the idea was to raise awareness of all the resources available in the Permian Basin.
Separately, Mills said that since the merger of Educate Midland and the Education Partnership, they are now working on a strategic plan that those who attended the ECAN meeting can be contacted about.
The organization will also be moving to the annex building in Region 18 across from the main complex, hopefully in January, Mills said.
The 1,500 square foot building is under construction.