Parents search for childcare services after Charlotte Harbor daycare closes

Reporter: Erika Jackson Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Grace Community School in Charlotte Harbor closed its doors Tuesday, Oct. 25,2019. And parents who depend on the childcare center say they are struggling to search for childcare services.

Grace Community School in Charlotte Harbor closed its daycare and pre-school on Tuesday. Now, some Southwest Florida parents are struggling to find daycare for their children. They worry about the overall availability of childcare in the area.

“It’s just kind of harder that you can’t get the care you need because it’s so much money,” said Sarah Sutherland, a mother in Port Charlotte.

Finding the right daycare is a full-time job in itself for parents like Sutherland, who is the mother of two children under 7 years old.

Parents of more than 70 children are dealing with the same struggle after Grace Community in Charlotte Harbor suddenly closed its doors this week.

“Each of the families that are contacting us, we are dealing with for case-by-case basis,” said Crystal Stone, the director at Storybook Learning Academy.

Most childcare centers in Charlotte County are based in Port Charlotte or Punta Gorda. Among them are Storybook Learning Academy in Punta Gorda, which has been getting calls from parents whose children went to Grace Community before it closed.

“It’s a good thing for business,” Stone said. “It’s not a good thing that something bad happened that resulted in this.”

And childcare options are much slimmer in Charlotte County compared to larger counties like Lee County. Some families are considering babysitting services to give their child more direct care.

“I’ve been OK with wanting to babysit them because I’ve been around them for a little while now, and I love the kids,” said McKenzie Spong, a former teacher at Grace Community School.

Many families are in an unexpected situation.

“I want to work with some of the parents to help them out,” Spong said.

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