KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Child care facilities are hard to come by and a local lawmaker said the pandemic has made the problem even worse.
One new mom and a local state representative have shared their concerns about the shortage of quality child care facilities in East Tennessee. Morine Gaitors is a new mom of six-month-old Bo.
“He’s full of life, a little spunk, and just an absolute joy,” she smiled. “I actually was told to maybe start looking when we were still pregnant but out of superstition and all that, I like called a couple of places but didn’t really look into it until he was here.”
At the moment, she’s working remotely and taking care of Bo but has recently started to seriously look into child care in Knoxville. “I’ve probably called at least 20 places for sure,” Gaitors said. “One thing that I found is that they have waiting lists until late 2022.”
Not only was the waiting list a shock, but so was the price, “When we were looking at actual tuition prices, if you were to get in, they were ranging from 12 to 1400 dollars a month.”
Tennessee State Representative Gloria Johnson (D) was just as surprised to hear about the cost. “When I start hearing about the cost of a good quality child care, I mean it blows your mind,” she said. “It is wow… on my current salary I could not afford child care.”
She stated that the pandemic has made it even worse for parents across the state, “We have just come through a pandemic. Many child care facilities closed down. Tennessee is already a child care desert.” She states that one in five never reopened.
“We could have grants for these businesses to start their own child care services within their companies,” said Johnson.
Gaitors agreed, “I think there should be a push for more companies to come in to establish quality licensed day cares.”
Gaitors said she just wants a place where her son Bo can have quality care and not fear the financial fall out, “Just a place where he can grow intellectually, emotionally, and just have a really good time in a place where I can do my work and not have a fear that he might not be safe.”
The Tennessee Department of Human Services does have a child care agency locator map on its website to help you find child care providers in your county.