Isaac Windes interviews a child at Hope Farm, an after school program for at-risk boys in Fort Worth.

Early Childhood Education Reporter - Crossroads Lab

Isaac Windes covers Early Childhood Education as part of the Star-Telegram’s Crossroads Lab. The position is funded with assistance from the Morris Foundation. Windes is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Before coming to the Star-Telegram he wrote about schools and colleges in Southeast Texas for the Beaumont Enterprise. He was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Please reach out with your questions about Early Childhood Education. Email: or call or text (817) 668-5449. Follow Isaac on Twitter @isaacdwindes

Child care workers aren’t making enough to pay the bills. Tarrant County has a plan.

City and county leaders are stepping up to fund major early education and child care initiatives this month, just as a new report previewed at a quarterly meeting of the Tarrant County Early Learning Alliance paints a grim picture of the availability of quality child care in the county. The study, exploring barriers to high-quality child care in Tarrant County, found local examples of long-standing structural issues in child care, including low compensation, high costs of living and a dwindling

Child care isn’t working for North Texas parents, educators. This institute wants to help.

As masks come off and parents return to work in person, they are still struggling to find seats for their children in child care. Some who can find seats are paying rates rivaling college tuition for their children to attend, analysis shows. The problems long precede recent attention, but the sector, which saw a mass exodus at the start of the pandemic, has been slow to recover, with local, state and federal funding keeping the sputtering industry afloat. As those dollars dry up and early educ

All 4-year-olds in Arlington can now go to free pre-K. Here are the details.

The Arlington school district is expanding pre-K to all 4-year-olds, with plans to roll out a new curriculum that implements Science, Technology, Engineering and Math alongside a more traditional, play-based model. The expansion builds on a move from half day to full day pre-K for eligible students two years ago, and comes as the district aims to increase kindergarten readiness scores that have fluctuated in recent years. “We know that early childhood education is critical in a student’s futur

Here’s why Grand Prairie home child care providers are cheering the city’s new change

A group of home day care providers in Grand Prairie are celebrating a change to a local ordinance which previously limited the number of children they could care for and the amount of funds they could receive from federal and state grants by not allowing them to become licensed. “I’m excited for the family child care businesses in the city that have options now,” said Jerletha McDonald, the founder of Arlington DFW Child Care Professionals, after the decision. McDonald said the previous ordina

Could pre-K put infant and toddler care out of business? Some DFW providers are worried.

Parents across DFW can sign their young children up for pre-K, which started Friday, in several school districts including Fort Worth, and for the first time this year for all parents, Arlington ISD. But as public school districts expand into the early learning space, reflecting a national effort to offer pre-K to all children, advocates and child care providers are sounding the alarm, fearing that the move could threaten their ability to stay open, and to provide infant and toddler care. “We’

Not all Fort Worth kids have access to outdoor play areas. A nonprofit plans to change that

Playing outside is a big part of life for kids across Fort Worth, and research has shown that it is key to early development and later success in learning. But some neighborhoods have no parks within walking distance, and residents of other neighborhoods shared that they are inaccessible or unsafe. That doesn’t sit right with a lot of parents, companies and elected officials. “It seems like the outdoors should be … a basic human right,” said Audrey Rowland, CEO of Green Space Learning, a comp

Grand Prairie could allow licensed child care in homes. But barriers still remain

With decreasing child care homes and seats and a growing number of parents looking for care as they return to work, home-based providers in Grand Prairie are asking the city to allow them to become licensed homes, which would enable them to take in more children. “I am in support of being licensed because I provide quality care for the children and I would like to have the opportunity to care for more children,” Leah Stanley, a child care provider, said before a City Council Committee on Monday

Texas teachers burning out after a hellish month. Here’s what a trustee saw in classrooms

As teachers return to the classroom after weeks of quarantine amid the latest surge of COVID-19 cases in January, school districts are left grappling with a staffing shortage that could be made worse by the conditions caused by the enduring pandemic. Raúl Peña, the chief talent officer for the Fort Worth school district, said last week that the district was continuing to ramp up efforts to hire more teachers, substitutes and staff in order to fill vacancies and help prevent another short-term s

Many Fort Worth families can’t walk to a park. Here is how schools could be the answer

When Erica Narvaez, a mother of five in Historic South Side Fort Worth, wants to take her kids to the park, she loads them up in the car and drives for about 10 minutes to the other side of town. “They do go to parks, but if I can’t drive them … then we just don’t go,” she told the Star-Telegram. “They enjoy their time out there when they do go.” High crime and drug use in certain parks and the lack of sidewalks to safely get to them, along with the lack of playground equipment at nearby parks

As Texas teachers call out sick, student outcomes could suffer. What can districts do?

With teachers and students missing days and in some cases weeks of class for another school year due to the ongoing pandemic, educators and at least one lawmaker are worried about how academic outcomes will suffer as a result. Fort Worth ISD is pulling out all the stops to prevent classrooms from closing by calling in administrators and having librarians and other staff cover classes as teachers call out sick with COVID-19. But researchers say without teachers regularly in the classroom, distr

Fort Worth Library wants your kid to read 1,000 books before kindergarten. Here’s why

The Fort Worth Public Library is starting off the new year by challenging children to read 1,000 books with their parents before they start kindergarten — with prizes to reward their progress along the way. “In the first three years (of life), a child’s brain has reached 80% of its adult volume,” said Trevor Naughton, the youth services manager for the library. “So it is a really key time to develop those literacy skills and to spark that love of reading and lifelong learning.” Every 100 books

Kids are not reading at grade level. Why don’t all Fort Worth schools invest in books?

De Zavala Elementary School librarian Teresa Guardiola is worried about children’s reading abilities, based on what she has seen in the first few weeks of school in Fort Worth. Students are disengaged and lagging behind in basic reading skills, she said. “Out of a dozen kids or so, maybe three were somewhat engaged in looking for sight words,” she said of one class. “The rest of them were totally oblivious, which tells me they’re not used to listening to stories, they haven’t been accustomed t
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