The recommendation comes from a report assessing Hurricane Harvey's ongoing impact.

At least 650 child care facilities within Houston reported some sort of damage following Hurricane Harvey. Across the many affected counties, that number climbed far higher, with thousands that were either temporarily or permanently closed, according to a new report from the nonprofit Children At Risk. But because many providers are for-profit businesses, they are unable to receive federal disaster recovery assistance and as such often struggle to operate following a storm like Harvey. This can have significant impacts on the health and wellbeing of children, a population whose recovery is often overlooked.

Two years later, the Houston area is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Federal housing dollars were finally made available to lower-income families this year and 17 of 21 bills related to the storm made it through the latest legislative session. But the analysis from Children At Risk suggests that more should be done to support children following a natural disaster.

"The impact of Hurricane Harvey on children throughout the Gulf Coast was as catastrophic," according to the report. "Many children experienced significant trauma and, at the very least, had their routines altered for weeks as a result of damage to schools and child care centers."

Shortly after the storm, an estimated 4,000 child care programs, afterschool programs and schools closed for weeks across the Greater Houston area, according to a Save the Children analysis cited in the report. "Quality child care especially benefits children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds both in school and later in life, but their access to affordable quality care is limited," the report noted. "When a storm puts further strain on the child care system, the inaccessibility of affordable child care becomes more pronounced."

One year after Harvey, "most child care facilities located in low-socioeconomic communities were assessed with damaged or in recovery. In contrast, high-socioeconomic communities have mostly recovered, undamaged centers." The uneven recovery worsened existing disparities. "With the existing lack of affordable high-quality child care in many communities," the report noted, "Hurricane Harvey exacerbated the problem of limited child care access for many working families."

The report also looked at school districts to track the impact of the storm on school-age children, including student mobility, homelessness and socioeconomic status. While there was actually a small decrease in student mobility, which can result in worse student outcomes, in Harris County, there was an increase in student homelessness following the storm.

A student-created app that allowed students to share their stories after Harvey found that roughly 43 percent of 90 students surveyed across the Houston area said they felt "fear," "anxious," or "stressed" during periods of heavy rainfall. Thanks to the state's Hurricane Harvey Task Force on School Mental Health Supports, families and staff of affected schools were able to connect to resources for counseling and long-term support.

Several steps at the state-level were taken in the most recent legislative session to better help children recover, according to the report, including guidance on school funding so as not to penalize districts affected by natural disasters and a bill that requires disaster food programs to maintain a regularly updated list of sites eligible for in-person application for victims of a disaster.

To improve recovery for children, the report recommended offering state grants or reimbursements for child care facilities serving low- and middle-income families. "These centers are an integral part of the recovery process for many families and children," argued the report, which also recommended streamlining the dispersal of federal housing dollars and creating legal aid and support centers in low-income communities for families navigating aid applications.