Parents concerned about lack of rural daycare centers - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Parents concerned about lack of rural daycare centers

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The worst of Superstorm Sandy hit earlier this week, but some schools have been closed until Friday. It raises questions about who will look after kids while parents continue to go to work. But some people struggle with this problem every day.

Some parents have voiced their concern about a lack of daycare centers in Kanawha County's rural areas. They say children who live farther from the city are disadvantaged because they have nowhere to go after the bell rings.

The Kanawha County School Board operates three community daycare centers, but administrators say they had to close the program at Cedar Grove in May 2011.

"At Cedar Grove, the issues were we did not have the necessary enrollment," said Joe Godish, the deputy superintendent of the Kanawha County School Board. "It was losing money, not even breaking even."

The after-school programs operated solely on the tuition it generated.

Delpha Stout lives in Mammoth. Her daughter attends Cedar Grove Community School, but since its after-school program closed, she now rides a bus to Kanawha City to wait until Stout picks her up from work.

"It had a lot of effect on me emotionally, not knowing who was going to watch our children while we had to work," Stout said. Both she and her husband work full-time.

"It bothered my children also. They would come to me and say, 'Mommy, who's going to watch after us?'"

Stout said she trusted the staff at the community school, which was close to her home.

"It was just easy and it was on the way and convenient. We could drop the children off early if we had to be at work early."

Stout added that not only does she pay more at the new center, but the board's decision hurts families who relied on Cedar Grove community program.

"In rural areas, there's a lot of limited resources we do not have," Stout said."

But now, 15 students who attended that program, now go to Morris Memorial United Methodist Church in Kanawha City, along with Stout's daughter. And the director of the church program said the center's nearly at capacity.

"Something's gotta be done on that side of the river," said Georgeanne Leake, the director of Morris' childcare program. "There are children there and we need to have a daycare center there."

"I've just researched funding, grants, and there's a lot of those grants available if they just write for those grants. But every suggestion we made, it went unheard," Stout said. "They already had their mind made up and they were not going to make any changes."