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Three Day Cares Operated By Kanawha County Schools Closing

Reported: Feb. 18, 2014 10:27 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 19, 2014 9:19 AM EST

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- Hundreds of parents across Kanawha County are now being forced to find new day care for their kids.

Parents are scrambling for alternatives after it was announced that three child care centers operated by Kanawha County Schools will be closing for good in just six weeks.

Child care workers at Shawnee and Elk Center Schools and the public employees day care at the Capitol Complex found out Monday night they will be losing their jobs, and Tuesday, news those three centers would close for good was passed on to parents. The biggest hurdle in keeping them open is the cost. It's all baffling to some parents, who are now worried about the future.

"Where do we go now?" asked parent Nick Scott.

You might recognize Nick Scott's voice as a local radio DJ. But right now, he is voicing concern, about who is going to care for his beautiful little 4-month-old daughter Addison. That is because since Addison was just weeks old, she's been going to one of three day cares now being closed by Kanawha County Schools.

"I just got to know these people and trust them wholeheartedly with my daughter's health and well-being while my wife and I are working. Now I've got to find someone else to trust with one of the things I love more than anything else in this world," Scott said.

The school district said the cost of running the day cares, needed improvements to the buildings themselves, and added costs of implementing the Affordable Care Act, meant something had to give.

"We've been working for months to try and figure something out but there's just things we could not afford to do," said Bob Calhoun, Kanawha County Schools early childhood education director.

One of the things parents find hardest to understand about this closure is that often there was a waiting list to get into these day cares. So now, with such short notice, they worry about how tough it will be finding an open spot in a new location.

Kanawha County Schools explain that for years, these day cares have been operated through the "Community Education Program," which has long been able to pay for itself, as a whole. But a new way of auditing expenses a year ago started looking at every day care that program runs individually, revealing the three centers now being closed were running a deficit to the tune of $65,000 in this school year alone.

"We've probably lost money all along," Calhoun said.

But that is little comfort to parents like Scott, who are just worried about the future for their kids.

"Are we going to find somewhere else that my daughter feels comfortable, that we feel comfortable, and hopefully like all of us, that fits in our family budget?" Scott asked.

Kanawha County Schools is trying to help parents find other child care options and find jobs within the area for the 40 employees from the day cares.

It looks like the only saving grace to keep things the way they are now, might be if someone new steps up to buy and run the day care centers.

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