Mother says finding open daycare spots for her child with Autism is next to impossible

Published: Feb. 26, 2023 at 7:57 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Daycares are still swamped. Long wait lists mean parents have to scramble to get their kids good care. One parent says its even worse for kids with disabilities.

In less than two years around a dozen childcare centers in Springfield have closed. This is taking away more than four thousand spots for kids. All of this gets more difficult if your child has special needs.

Kallie Keymer’s four-year-old son is on the Autism spectrum and non-verbal. She said finding daycare now is hard.

“Really hard for single parents trying to work to make a living,” said Keymer. “My family’s kind of just been helping me out. But I mean, I can’t rely on them all the time.”

She said finding a daycare is hard as it is, but one for her son’s needs is more difficult.

“It makes things a lot harder,” said Keymer. “It kind of makes it able to where I have to worry about how I’m gonna get to work the next day to be able to provide for him.”

Keymer said her son is on a waitlist. Daycare providers KY3 spoke with say they don’t want to deny anyone, but they are full.

Marisa DeClue is the executive director at the Developmental Center of the Ozarks, an organization where they have daycares for kids who live with disabilities.

She said good care can be hard to find.

“There is a fairly new term, which is a childcare desert,” said DeClue.

DeClue said parents have it tough right now.

“When you’re scrambling for childcare, because maybe you’re removed from one center, and then you call another to find out that the waiting list is a year long, it can be very discouraging,” said DeClue.

She said some daycares don’t have people who are trained to take every kid. So finding the right care is important.

“Providers are just feeling very overwhelmed,” said DeClue. “It’s very similar to our public school systems that are feeling overwhelmed and pressured.”

Keymer said moms like her could use a break.

“Trying to make ends meet for yourself and your child, and then having to pay, you know, a crazy amount for daycare,” said Keymer. “It just makes it hard.”

Today’s advice for new parents is to get on a waiting list as soon as you learn you’re expecting.

It’s not uncommon for parents to wait months or years for a spot to open up.

The Developmental Center for the Ozarks says you can also call them to see if they have open spots, 417 829-0800.


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