KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chamber of Commerce says 40% of all child care businesses across the city have closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

For parents that means spending months — if not years — on waiting lists.

The chamber described the child care problem across this city as almost reaching a crisis level.

“A lot of places are wait-listed for a really long time,” said Morgan Reed, who struggled to find care for her child who’s due in a few weeks. “And it was just kind of like, ‘Where do we go in the meantime?’ Because when I come back to work, we didn’t really have too many options.”

Reed started her search for child care months before her child was due but ran in to dead end after dead end.

“I was really stressed out at some points to where it was like, I didn’t even want to like look. I would have to like take a couple days off from Google because I was searching so hard,” Reed said.

And with so many child care providers closing, it’s safe to say she’s not alone.

The search was so difficult, Reed was almost forced to leave the workforce. She said it’s not just a waitlist problem.

“It got to the point where I looked into possibly seeing if staying home and being a stay-at-home mom was cheaper or more financially, like, better for us,” she said.

Reed’s glad she started her search early because nearly 5 months later — and weeks before she’s due — she found a spot for her son. But it comes with a small caveat.

“The compromise we have to do is it’s like 35 minutes away from here,” she said. “So in the mornings, I have to drive like 15-20 minutes in the opposite direction is my job to then drive another like 35-40 minutes to work.”

In all, she’s adding 80-90 miles of extra driving a day, just for childcare. Her advice for parents expecting a child soon like herself: start as early as possible.

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