Knoxville child care provider disputes with neighbors

Knoxville child care provider disputes with neighbors over at-home child care

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Jacoyia Wakefield said she takes care of her two children and three others at her residence on Green Valley Drive. Jacoyia Wakefield said she takes care of her two children and three others at her residence on Green Valley Drive.
"There's definitely a personal touch that you're not going to get at a larger center," Jacoyia Wakefield said. "That's why I keep it so small so I can have one-on-ones with the kids." "There's definitely a personal touch that you're not going to get at a larger center," Jacoyia Wakefield said. "That's why I keep it so small so I can have one-on-ones with the kids."

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A child care provider is at odds with several members of her community about whether she can care for children in her Holston Hills home.

Jacoyia Wakefield said she takes care of her two children and three others at her residence on Green Valley Drive.

According to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, a daycare provider needs to be licensed through the state if the person cares for five or more unrelated children. Wakefield does not fall into those guidelines and therefore does not need to be licensed.

According to the city, Wakefield has a business license but the city said the problem here has to do with the location of the operation, which the city said violates a zoning ordinance.

"There's definitely a personal touch that you're not going to get at a larger center," Wakefield said. "That's why I keep it so small so I can have one on ones with the kids."

Last month, the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission approved a Use on Review application for Wakefield, allowing her to operate a child care home occupation.

Several community members have been fighting against that ruling.

One resident, Sandra Woodland, presented a petition with more than 200 signatures to City Council asking for an appeal of the MPC's decision.

"This is not just a simple off site nanny with four children," Woodland said during the Feb. 18 meeting. "It is not a simple stay-at-home mom in Holston Hills watching some neighborhood kids. This is a preschool."

Woodland declined to speak with 6 News on camera but she said her push is not a personal attack against Wakefield. Woodland said she believes Wakefield has a good idea but chose the wrong location to operate a business.

"There's nothing commercial about it," Wakefield said. "I think if they actually took the time to see what was going on here, I think they would be embarrassed for even wanting to oppose it in the first place."

In a vote of eight to one, City Council voted in favor of Woodland's request, approving the appeal last week.

The move has some parents like Manya Whitney-Miller worried about losing the service her two-year-old daughter Hazel loves.

"I found it and it was a dream come true," Whitney-Miller said. "She's also significantly less expensive than some of these large corporate places where really I can drop her off and I don't have to worry about anything."

"It's kind of difficult to swallow to think that anybody would be uncomfortable with someone, you know, a stay-at-home mom taking care of her kids and a couple others," Wakefield said.

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