SAN ANTONIO -- The average cost of childcare at a licensed center in Texas is just over $8,800 a year per child. That's more than the annual cost of tuition at many four-year colleges. It's also more than a year of mortgage payments for the average Texan. Here in Bexar County, there are a variety of childcare options for parents of all income levels.
The Discovery School is a nationally accredited pre-school educating children from the age of 2 up till first grade. In addition to classes, the school offers cultural activities including classes like ballet, theater and karate. It prides itself on not being a daycare, but with that distinction comes a price tag. Tuition depending on what age group and add-on activities you choose for your child can ring in at up to $1000 a month for one child.
"We try to make it as affordable as possible every year. We try really hard to not increase our tuition, not any more than is absolutely necessary," said Mary Stanchak, director of the Discovery School.
Parents say the tuition is worth it. Christine Gaughan sends her three kids, ages 2, 4, and 6 to the Discovery School.
"I don't think that you can put a real price tag on their love of learning that they get from here," Gaughan said.
Across town on the southwest side, low-income parents of children under the age of 3 from selected San Antonio neighborhoods are taking part in a parenting class organized by Avance, a non-profit that provides free educational programs for infants and pre-kindergartners from at risk areas.
"We want to have the children ready for school, we also promote and we give the tools to the parents to succeed, to keep growing in their personal goals." said Erika Crispo from Avance.
Monica Estupinan is attending Avance's parenting class once a week for nine months while her one-year-old daughter, Avi, is participating in her own classes downstairs.
"The fact that I'm able to be a part of it and watch her socialize with other children and it's at no cost to me is probably the reason why I did it, because I'm going to school and I'm not able to afford daycare otherwise," Estupinan said.
Regardless of income, parents across San Antonio say they just want their children to have a safe place to be looked after.