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RAPID Survey

RAPID-Harris County-UH IRWGS
Survey of Family and Child Wellbeing

About Us

RAPID Harris County asks parents of young children about what they’re experiencing, to hear parents’ voices, and better understand how we can serve families in our community. RAPID is an ongoing survey of households with children ages 0 to 5, designed to gather essential information on the needs and well-being of children and their families.

Harris County

RAPID-Harris County Update

June 2024

More than 1200 Harris County parents/primary caregivers with children aged five and younger have told us something about their successes and challenges, since we started asking in March 2023.

As we go, we want to share our findings with you!  Here’s some of what we learned so far:

57% of Harris County RAPID respondents have kids in Non-Parental Childcare [NPCC],
at a Center or with a Relative, while parents work.

Since center-based childcare is often expensive,
it’s mostly used by families with higher incomes.
Lower-income families often depend on relatives for NPCC.

But 40% of parents of kids under 5 in Harris County are immigrants!
And many immigrants don’t have relatives here.
That helps explain why they’re roughly 18-22% less likely to use Non-Parental Childcare.

Rapid Survey 

That means many moms are unable to work, bringing in less for the family,
often isolating them and their kids at home and making them more vulnerable to abuse.
That means less money spent in community businesses.

Suggesting a need for expanded affordable center-based care.

  • Blacks and Hispanics reported more difficulty paying for basics than Whites with similar income.

    • Suggesting that their social support networks had fewer resources to share (such as savings, property/assets, space, time to babysit, etc.).
    • This may be linked in part to historical and current inequities in wages and access to services. 

  • Respondents in Spanish reported less debt (perhaps linked to lower access to credit).
These findings indicate the complexity of the workforce and income effects of having children for families in Houston and Harris County.

Parent Voices

There is strength in shared experience and we value your insight.
We want to hear what challenges you face, what is helping you, and what you want leaders to know about their situation.
We use your feedback to understand the highs and lows families are experiencing.

What is helping you and your family the most right now?

  • Our family’s childcare is provided by my mother … What we pay her is far less than what we would pay at any childcare facility. [Without her], we would not be able to … make ends meet.
  • Family, WIC, local church, and community.
  • Early Reach program paying for childcare … I prayed so much to be approved for that program. My baby is thriving and learning while I am at work. That’s my biggest help at the moment.
What are the biggest challenges and concerns for you and your family right now?
  • Lack of help/resources for our 9-year-old autistic daughter. ABA facilities are not accepting Medicaid and it is very difficult to find a talk or play therapist. We have been on a waitlist for Occupational Therapy for several months.
  • My son is about to start Kindergarten. We are worried about placing him in the public school system here, but can’t afford not to.

How has the increased costs of everyday items affected your household?

  • ‘We eat less healthy due to having to feed multiple family members and the costly price of groceries. We go without snacks and fruits a lot and just buy essentials, to manage.”
  • “Maintenance issues … are put aside. More difficult to prepare for big-ticket items…. Contributes to stress and tension within the family.”
  • “No longer saving for retirement, putting groceries and necessities on credit cards and not being able to pay them off, not signing the kids up for activities, putting off dental care for the family, not taking vacations.”
  • “La verdad ha estado afectando mucho por qué tengo que dejar de comprar algo de alimentación para poder cubrir lo que son pañales, wipes, leche [para el] bebé, ropa.”​
When thinking about ... your childcare providers right now,
what role … do they serve for you and your family?
  • “They care for my kids and they also teach them.  My 4 y/o daughter is much more emotionally mature than other kids her age.  ...  I think a lot of this is due to the quality of her day care.”
What, if any, impact has the end in continuous Medicaid coverage had on your household?
  • “Was told I wouldn’t be affected and then one day I was taken off and had to reapply. It took almost 2 months for them to put the kids back on.”
  • “My children went without health care for two months when the change went into effect.  Had to do a whole new application to get it reinstated.”
  • “Stress and anxiety.”
  • “Ha tenido un impacto grave ya que a la hora de renovar los beneficios mi hijo y yo estuvimos afectados al no calificar la cobertura del Medicaid.”
    Translation: “It has had a serious impact, since when it came time to renew the benefits, my son and I were affected by not qualifying for Medicaid coverage.”