Oklahoma's number of childcare facilities on the decline in recent years
Cari Rerat works 40 hours a week at the Pryor Library, but her real full-time job is being a mother.
“We’re a packaged deal, my family comes with me,” said Rerat.
Rerat knew it would be a challenge finding a place for her children to stay while she was on the clock.
“I accepted the position in Pryor and the next day, I started looking for childcare,” said Rerat.
Rerat searched the Oklahoma DHS website for day cares but came up empty.
“None of the centers that I called that had good ratings and inspections and no complaints online. None of them had room for two kids,” said Rerat.
Over the last four years, the number of day cares in Oklahoma has dropped 20 percent.
The biggest decline in day cares were at-home centers, according to data from DHS. In Oklahoma, the number of in-home day cares has dropped about 25 percent since 2012.
“There was lots of stress,” said Rerat.
Stress that’s apparent for dozens of families, who are on the waiting list at Disciple Discovery Center in Catoosa.
“We have waiting lists for every age group here. We don’t have the room,” said Joanna Wallis.
Wallis said it’s hard to find quality teachers, for the pay that they can offer. Her day care is a non-profit so that makes things a little simpler.
“I want to pay them more, it’s just not a high paying job that we can pay any more than we do- and keep our doors open,” said Wallis.
Back in Pryor, Rerat spotted a literal sign from God at the church right next to the library. The sign read, "After School Day Care."
Her son was able to get into the program at the church and Rerat was able to find an in-home day care for her daughter just in time for the Christmas break, but she’ll have to start looking again soon for when summer rolls around.