TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — Nap time has just ended at Sonya Hill's family child care center that she runs out of her home.
"This is my 26th year," she said.
She's one of an estimated 150 childcare homes across the city licensed to serve up to 12 children by the state. But in the city of Tulsa, technically you're not supposed to have more than 7 kids.
"We didn’t have this problem before, this is all new and interesting," she said.
The problem is that it wasn't until recently that the difference between 7 and 12 was a big deal, it's on the books but not enforced. But someone in the city apparently complained about a home child care center, not Sonya's, but nonetheless, the worry is that if the city has to crack down and enforce the 7 child limit, the impact would be massive.
"It’s going to impact a lot of people, a lot of people, a lot of homes," she said.
How many kids might have to find new childcare centers?
"A minimum of 600 and that’s only if the people who have to reduce their capacity can stay in business," said Mattece Mason. She has a much larger facility, Jewel's Place, with 70 kids, and she's worried about the multiple layers of fallout if the ordinance is enforced.
"So it's not just going to disenfranchise our children, which is the most important, it’ll disenfranchise local businesses and their employees," she said.
"The concern is especially for those like myself, I am a divorcee, so this is my only income," said Hill.
"This is just that first step so that we can start the conversations," said Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper.
Earlier this week, over two dozen home childcare operators appeared at city hall to lobby councilors to change the city's seven-child limit to mirror the state's 12.
"I want you all to know that my successor knows about the changes that you all are requesting," said Tulsa city councilor Kara Joy McKee.
"And I have no doubt that our city is going to do the right thing and get onboard for this and update the laws," said Mason.
"Are you confident you’ll be able to change the ordinance?," NewsChannel 8 asked Ms. Hill. "We pray, ok, that’s all, we can pray and work together," she said.