Daycare Dilemma - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Daycare Dilemma

The reasons are varied, financial troubles and liability concerns. In Tyler alone, 3 daycares have closed within the last year. Another one in Tyler is expected to close before 2006 is over. This has parents across East Texas concerned. What can they do to guarantee a daycare for their child?

We spoke with those in charge of local daycares and a family who's looked to themselves and their friends for a solution.

Jim and Margaret have two children. Their 2 year old son was attending a faith based daycare center, Generations Together. However, it closed last December leaving them without child care.

"We basically had 4 days to find other placement for him before they closed," says Margaret. Staying at home was not an option and they had already been on other daycare waiting lists for years.

"The minute we found out we were pregnant we put him on the list and we still haven't gotten in yet," says Margaret.

"It's very stressful because both of us are professionals and we rely on daycare for a safe place to be and hopefully learn," says Jim.

One of the oldest daycares in Tyler, First Presbyterian, has been open for 51 years. It's expected to close its doors in December 2006. Director Jan Yarbrough says she believes she knows why this is happening. "Terrified of lawsuits risk factors, that's the big thing," says Jan.

The First Presbyterian Church of Tyler is not the only church closing their daycare center. In the last few years, 3 other church daycare programs have already closed: Marvin United Methodist in June 2003, First Baptist Tyler closed in September 2005 and faith based daycare, Generations Together closed in December 2005.

Dr. Michael Massar, Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church say his church's daycare closed because of finances. "We were loosing about $80,000 at that point in the year. Most people that want daycare, want to have them close to their work. Tyler moving south and there are fewer and fewer people that will drop their kids off downtown," says Dr. Massar.

With fewer options available, Jim and Margaret were running out of time. So they came up with their own solution. "We decided to find someone from the daycare and we picked the 2 year old teacher," says Margaret.

Together with 3 other families, they hired the teacher of the 2 year olds, April, to watch their kids. The children stay at different homes, on a rotating basis.

"So far it's been really good, its nice. And it's a good feeling that the children are being well taken care of and a lot of close personal attention," says Margaret.

Jim and Margaret say this method is not for everyone, but they say they were able to come with a solution to their daycare needs, quickly.

Some of the daycare centers that we spoke with say their waiting lists are as short as 9 months. However, others say it could be up to 4 years before your child gets in. Several child care centers say they prioritize, by allowing siblings and then their church members families in first.

Karolyn Davis, reporting.

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