JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A local daycare that serves a needy population celebrated the return of power Wednesday.
But it took seven days, leaving low-income families with nowhere to send their children during the workday.
“We need to have it like yesterday,” said a mother who preferred not to be named.
Gingerbread House Daycare and Learning Center was without power for a week.
The mother of a young daughter, this working parent struggled to find alternative childcare.
“Very difficult cause I have to look for someone that I trust who I trust…someone who has to be available for at least nine hours,” she said.
We’ve heard many stories like, but perhaps at Gingerbread, there’s more at stake.
Gingerbread serves some of the poorest Jacksonville residents, many of whom don’t speak English. It specifically caters to the international refugee population. The owner, Marika, says the parents who come to her don’t have great jobs because they’re still working on their qualifications.
“I even had one parent tell me if she called out of work, she was going to be fired,” she said.
For those without family or friends, Marika worries those parents are resorting to desperate measures. She said those families with children who are just eight or nine might be left alone to look after younger children.
“I’m sure that there were children who were left home,” she said.
The mother we spoke with said not all employers are sympathetic, and those parents who called out before they did not have childcare may lose their jobs.
Missing daycare is also missing a day of assimilating to American culture, which is a setback for the staff here who work hard to break language barriers.
There is fallout for the daycare itself, too. While it’s closed, employees aren’t paid.
Marika says the worst part, however, is the free meals these 70-80 kids a day aren’t getting while they’re not at daycare.
“A lot of them are missing meals because we’re providing breakfast, lunch, and an [afternoon] snack,” she said.
“We also will send home snacks with them and send extra things with them, so those are things that they are not getting.”
With the fridges and freezers off, the daycare lost $4,000 of food.
The staff will spend Wednesday night cleaning and assessing the damage, and they plan to reopen Thursday.
Gingerbread Daycare is welcoming donation to help them get back in full swing. They’re looking for kids’ clothes, ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. They’re located on Chester Avenue on Jacksonville’s Southside.