HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 500 families are on the waiting list to get their children into Seagull Schools' downtown campus.
"There's a limited amount of spaces available every year. The waiting list is much bigger than being able to place everybody," campus administrator Lisa Uyehara said.
Families can spend up to two years on Seagull's waiting list.
Meanwhile, hundreds of families are waiting to get into one of Kamaaina Kids 20 preschool locations.
"Our waiting list has grown over the last couple of years, especially this year," operations director Buffy Owens said.
There are several reasons for the growing wait times at popular preschools. More working parents are trying to get their kids into preschool, and children who don't meet the state's age for entering kindergarten are staying in preschool a year longer.
"Some of the child care centers have said they've had to push the number of three-year-olds they can serve back because they're trying to serve the four- and five-year-old children," said Dana Balansag, childcare administrator with the Department of Human Services.
Preschools must meet state requirements for room sizes, playground areas and bathroom facilities. Larger organizations with bigger preschool enrollments that want to open additional locations are hard pressed to find affordable space.
Owens, of Kamaaina Kids, said, "It's tough to go into retail space because it's way too expensive. You would have to charge the parents a lot more."
In light of the long wait lists, the state advises parents to sign up with a preschool up to two years before their child is ready to attend..
"If you wait until the last minute a lot of times the wait lists are so long that you're not going to be able to get into the preschool that you're wanting," Balangsag said.
If parents can't find an immediate opening at a preschool, they can try to get your child into one of the state's 535 registered Family Child Care Homes regulated by PATCH.