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SC parents face long waitlists, high prices when looking for child care

If you are planning on having a child soon and not registered at a day care, it may be too late. Many places are backed up for months, if not longer.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — If you are planning on having a child soon and not registered at a daycare, it may be too late. Waitlists at many places are backed up for months, if not longer. 

Corina Bickley is a first time mom to a six-month-old baby girl named Paige. 

"She’s my first. She’s my miracle baby we weren’t even supposed to have her," said Bickley. 

For nearly a year and a half, she has been looking to get her daughter into a child care program, with no luck. 

"It was the same answer every person: we’re On a waitlist we’ll call you back," said Bickley. 

After joining six waitlists, Bickley opted for an in home baby sitter. She said its unlikely she'll enroll her daughter at a center, even if a spot opens. 

"I wish I knew it was going to be this hard," said Bickley. "It's like You need to plan in advance before even having a kid."

Many parents like Bickley are not alone. At Southeast Child Development Center, 70 parents are on the waitlist. 

"We started that wait list a year and a half ago. We still have some people on that waitlist," said Pastor Roger Gunaud. 

Gunaud said the center is licensed to handle up to 143 children, but can only take 40 right now due to staffing shortages. 

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"It’s tough when you know you can serve the kids. We have the facilities we just don’t have the staff," said Gunaud. 

News 19 called 19 child care centers in the Midlands. Of the eight that responded, seven had a waitlist. Many of them cited staffing shortages as the reason why. The longest waitlist was six months long, and the shortest had about 10 children on the waitlist. 

If you're looking for child care, there are several options. 

The South Carolina Child Care Resource and Referral network helps connect families with child care centers. 

"We have parent referral specialists, who can actually work with families," said Director of the Referral network Melissa McDonald. "we can actually help you broaden that search a bit, to maybe think of other options, other areas."

McDonald adds parents should always have a back-up plan, explore certified home child care options, and to not give up on the waitlists. 

"You might find that that waiting list goes faster than what they may have expected," said McDonald.

Caregivers can also visit scchildcare.org to find providers near them. 

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