Day Care Center Gets Reprieve

Working moms Joey McClure and Mandy Seal thought their day care problems were solved when the child care center opened in Pass Christian's tent city.

"This past week's been very stressful because we've been so worried, you know. What are we going to do if they shut down," says McClure.

The health department ordered a shutdown, saying the center doesn't meet requirements. Kids are in tents with no running water or bathrooms. The center's director confirms the health department has given a temporary reprieve, and these parents are thankful.

"I was going to have to quit my job, stay home take care of him and therefore have no money coming in on my side," Seal says. "And without two incomes these days, you just can't pay bills and do much with that."

"I would have probably had to do the same thing," McClure says. "I would've had to quit and take care of my two children because there are no day cares. The waiting lists are so long."

The woman who runs the Long Beach First Baptist Church child care knows that better than anyone. Ruby Blackwell says she can't keep up with the demand.

"It would take the same amount of buildings you see here, plus this many more just to fill my waiting list. I have at least 140 children on the waiting list," Blackwell says.

The center is at capacity with 116 kids. Blackwell says it will probably be mid-summer before she can take in more.

"We all have to have jobs. Even for me to hire people it's hard for me to get enough employees here. But imagine when the parents come in and say, 'I have to quit my job if you do not have a place for my child.'"

The health department says the tent city day care will continue to operate under a special waiver until it can move. The center's director says she will move into a new building in Long Beach next month. She says plans are also being discussed to put modular classroom buildings at the tent city so day care will continue to be available there as well.