OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Daycares from all over the state made the trip to the capitol this morning for what they say was a necessary rally. They’re hoping to gain access to more money to keep their facilities open and running through the pandemic.
“I think that people don’t realize that this is a problem right now,” said Jessica Morris, Bright Beginnings Learning Center.
Child care providers are driving around the capitol grounds, hoping state leaders will hear their pleas for help.
They are saying that many daycares across the state are closing due to a lack of funding and resources.
“Mostly we’re here for everyone’s voice, because we know some centers can’t come out here or they can’t hear their voice, so we’re standing up for those centers,” said Christy Kastl, Executive Director of Creme de la Crème.
The Licensed Child Care Association of Oklahoma says the state was given nearly $50 million through the CARES Act. That money is set to aid child care services through this pandemic.
“So, we’ve got to get this money so they can open back up. So when Oklahoma opens, we are open as well,” said Janell Wheat, Licensed Child Care Association of Oklahoma.
But the state hasn’t officially announced yet how it’s going to use the new funds.
Morris says Bright Beginnings Learning Center has already lost a third of their kids.
“We gotta have some help now for daycare to be there when they go back to work,” Morris said.
Wheat says many daycares have applied for small business loans, but it simply isn’t enough. They argue shutting down daycares is detrimental, as other essential workers like nurses and doctors need them for child care while they go to work themselves.
“It makes me feel sad just because people don’t see us as essential workers. They see us as just some daycare, but really we’re an early childhood center,” Kastl said.
We asked DHS for a comment on the daycares’ concerns. They sent us this statement, saying, “As it relates to the $50 million in additional child care development block grant funding received by the state of Oklahoma, we just received guidance a few days ago from our federal partners and are currently evaluating how those funds will be allocated. We are focused on supporting Oklahoma families impacted by this crisis.”
The governor’s office also says since this federal money is so new, they currently are working to clarify a timeline.