It's a problem hundreds of East Texas parents are faced with: having to wait months, even years, to get their children into pre-school. Some places have a couple of hundred children on a waiting list. That's why so many Tyler women, who are pregnant, are not waiting until having their child to sign up. Pre-schools are saying the lists just keep getting longer.
"When I was pregnant I was on a list. I was already on a list. It was before she was even before she was born that we were on a list to try to get into a school," said Alison Ables, who has been on waiting list for one year.
Ables, who works part time, knew it would take a long time to find a preschool for her daughter. She found out, she had made it to the top of the list at Oak Tree Academy. "We think she's going to start in September," said Ables.
Sunday Hooper is the co-owner of that academy. When Hooper opened Oak Tree in November 1995, there were 11 children under her care. Six months later, that number grew to 100. Today, there are 120 children with a waiting list of 200. "Some children will never get in because there just will never be an availability," said Hooper.
That's why for mothers like Ables, finding a place to take care of her daughter has been stressful. "There's not very many preschools so to speak," said Ables.
"There are a lot of them that are dealing with the church and if you don't want to go through a church, it's hard to find a reputable place that you might enjoy and you feel comfortable leaving your child with," said Nesha Perkins, 28, who works full time.
Perkins has been on a waiting list for three months. She says finding a pre-school for her three-year-old daughter was a necessity. "It's almost like having to decide whether or not you're going to work or stay at home," said Perkins. "It's becoming so that there are only a few places where you can choose from in Tyler."
Stepping Stone PreSchool, an all-day pre-school, also has a long waiting list. Debbie Lauman, the director, says they will not have any openings until at least the summer. "I think there is a lack of quality care in Tyler, especially for the youngest age group," said Lauman.
She suggests if you're looking for a preschool, to get on the list as soon as possible. Also, she says, ask your friends and neighbors what place they recommend and then go check them out. Lauman also suggests calling the Texas Department of Families and Protective Services and ask for a licensing report. She says that'll let you know whether there have been any complaints filed against that preschool.