FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- If you're a parent with young children, you know finding affordable, quality child care in the Central Valley can be tough.
For families with a child who has a disability - it's even more challenging.
Charlene Garcia visited the ABC30 station Thursday morning to shine a light on her youngest son Brendan and the challenges he faces with learning disabilities. He's non-verbal and has an intellectual delay.
"He's seven, so he's probably functioning at a three or four-year-old's mindset," Garcia explained. "Most kids his age can have a vocabulary of more than 100 words, and he has less than 10. Most kids his age are already potty-trained. He's not."
Brendan showed Action News reporter Amanda Aguilar his wooden counting toy. A few seconds later, he pushed it away.
"He also tends to have behavioral issues," said Garcia. "Sometimes he may throw a tantrum because of frustration."
That is daily life for Brendan.
Garcia stressed it's crucial she finds childcare with trained, patient professionals.
"I don't want anything to happen to him because he can't stand up for himself. I really have to be careful on who watches him, and so it's frustrating," she said. "I'm scared."
Brendan is currently enrolled in Central Unified's Functional Life Skills class.
His grandparents watch him after school, while Garcia is at work. However, she knows her parents are getting older, which prompted her to search for other after-school options.
"It's been difficult, very, very difficult, especially being a single parent, and the only one working to provide for them," shared Garcia. "Having to contact these agencies, and daycares while I'm at work. On my breaks, lunches -- I'm constantly making phone calls. A lot of them don't have the staffing capability to handle someone like him."
There's only one care facility in the Valley, specifically for children with disabilities.
According to Garcia, Brendan doesn't qualify and there's already a long waiting list.
The struggle the single mother of three faces isn't unique.
"We've been hearing this problem, especially in Fresno, for the past few months," explained Maisha Cole.
Cole is the deputy director of the Child Care Law Center, a legal organization that focuses on child care in California.
According to Cole, more money needs to go toward childcare providers, who are underpaid. Plus, childcare facilities need more training to accommodate all children.
"We've done at least, I would say, four trainings this past year in Fresno, specifically working with childcare providers," she said.
Until more facilities are able to take in Brendan, Garcia feels like she's hit a brick wall.
"Having to consider not working is very scary for me," she said.
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