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Tulsa County lawmaker looks to address "daycare desert" and childcare shortage

Lawmaker looks to address daycare shortage
Posted at 5:13 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 18:13:24-04

MANNFORD, Okla. — A childcare desert is an area where there are three times as many children as there are daycare slots.

One Tulsa County senator tells us it's a growing problem across her district.

"The majority of senate district 37 is a childcare desert. Most of the spots are full. There are wait lists, and we have a lot of parents that struggle to work because of it," Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman said.

The lawmaker is bringing an interim study on this to the legislature this fall, with the goal of making changes in the year ahead.

"I have several zip codes that I represent that don't have a single licensed childcare facility that's a two-star rating or above. That's an issue. That's a really big issue for the whole district," Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman said.

Staff at Lakeside Child Care Development said many Oklahoma daycares have closed over the last few years, and now some families come here from as far as 30 miles away.

"If one gets hurt and you have to come pick them up, so it's stressful. And employers aren't real compassionate sometimes about family problems," owner Debbie Ardrey said.

Ardrey said it's more stress each year, as the state adds more regulations on everything from nutrition to training.

"I used to direct and run this center by myself, when I opened 20 years ago. Now it takes three of us just to do all the paperwork and make sure all of the requirements are being followed," she said.

That's why lawmakers said things like incentives could be useful moving forward.

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