‘It’s going to be tight’: With schools closing, daycare search is on for area parents

The sudden closure of schools makes the already hard task of finding good, affordable day care in the region even harder for parents.

Daycare providers around the area have been getting lots of calls from parents scrambling to find someone to watch their kids on short notice.

Kelly Gates, who runs Kingdom Care Day Care out of her home in Bowie, Maryland, said even before lunch time on Friday, she had gotten more than a dozen calls from frustrated parents. In fact, her phone rang 15 times in the span of about one hour.

“I can hear the disappointment and I can hear the shock,” Gates said. “They’re like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening, I’ve barely had any notice, and this is so unfortunate I don’t know what I’m going to do.'”

The calls don’t last much longer than that though.

“They are brief,” said Gates. “I have to be upfront and honest with them and tell them I have limited space.”

Gates is licensed to care for 12 kids, and all of those spots were taken up even before life turned upside down for parents. Most in-home providers in Maryland are only licensed for eight, and were also booked up already.

“I can hear the sighs and the frustration,” said Gates. She’s been referring them online to the Maryland Family Network’s Locate Child Care Service.

“Definitely contact ‘Locate Child Care,'” was Gates’ advice for parents who find themselves in a bind. “We have one in every county. We also have the state-funded one and hopefully there will be some other in-home child care providers that will have drop-in care vacancies.”

“It’s going to be tight,” she added. “Every single type of child care — family and small centers, as well as large centers — they’re going to have limited capacity.”

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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