Finding affordable childcare during a recession

kids lining up at Kid City

Jobs are hard to come by these days, especially in South Carolina. The state's latest unemployment rate was 12.6%. That means more than 270,000 residents across the state are looking for a job. If a decent position opens up folks are jumping on that opportunity, even parents who planned to stay at home.

Families face tough decisions in today's economy. Some of those decisions are harder than others, like putting children in day care because parents are forced to go back to work. But, there is hope. New businesses are popping up to provide help in brand new ways.

Melanie Hornsby now works two jobs to help support her family. But, there's a price for everything. Hornsby's cost is putting her eight-year-old daughter in daycare, something she was apprehensive about.

"It's been a concern of mine because I want her to be somewhere where she can have fun, be safe and get good care," says Hornsby.

A scenario she found is often hard to come by, until she found Kid City for her daughter Ryleigh.

"She [Ryleigh] has a ball. She doesn't want to leave," says Hornsby.

Kid City owner Elaine Harkey says, "When my husband and I designed the building, we decided if parents had to work and kids can't go home, which is the optimum scenario, it might as well be fun."

But that's not the only thing Harkey says the facility offers. She says Kid City is really like a children's village. There's a playground, water park, basketball hoop, a stage where kids can sing karaoke or perform plays, a projector screen for movies, a gymnasium, and indoor game room, a study room and a cafe. This is how it works, after play time children start rotations where they split up. Some play inside games, some do homework and some eat their daily snack, all while being monitored on camera.

"They have all the things I looked for. They have safety and supervision, but at the same time I feel like they're at home in the den," says Hornsby.

While she's on the job, Hornsby can focus on her work knowing Ryleigh is safe.

Hornsby says Kid City's rates are comparable to other local day care facilities. In fact, she says it's actually a little bit cheaper. Plus it's one of a handful of places in the Midlands that offer a part time option, which means if Ryleigh or any other child doesn't go a day, the parent doesn't have to pay for it.