Hundreds of children but just a few dozen spots open. Wimauma finds itself in a child-care crisis. Now, a non-profit is working to turn it around.
It's already hard enough being a parent but in Wimauma many of the migrant and low-income parents face another unwanted obstacle...a serious shortage of early childcare homes.
"People don't really see that it is a problem, you see it when those children walk into kindergarten or first grade and they are not prepared to learn," said Elizabeth Gutierrez.
She's the CEO of Enterprising Latinas and just opened the Women's Opportunity Center in August. This shortage, is the first issue she wants to tackle in Wimauma.
"Clearly there is a problem," she said. "The need is great."
It's no exaggeration. According to Hillsborough County, in just the 25 square miles that make up Wimauma, there's about 700 pre-school aged children and just one childcare home.
That's why the non-profit is offering a free 40-hour program at the center. All to certify women as child care provider with the hopes they'll open some much-needed facilities.
"It can help women earn a decent wage, a living wage while at the same time addressing this really important issue," said Gutierrez.
Jackie Brown just passed the course and earned an advanced certification. Thanks to help of this free course, she now plans to open her own childcare home in May.
"It's crazy because to me it's almost as if we are still back in the 70's," said Brown, "I see parents that need to be at work, they want to be at work but can't be at work because someone needs to keep that child."
Meanwhile, nearly 30 other women are about to take the state certification exam. The center is accepting new applications for the program. Courses are in Spanish and English. They start in September. For more information, call the Women's Opportunity Center at 813-699-5811. Spots are limited.