Memphis senator proposes bill to help end “child care deserts”

Bill would allow Tenn. agencies to provide childcare

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis Senator Sara Kyle proposed a new law that would increase daycare options for state employees to help fill what she calls daycare deserts.

The newly filed Senate Bill 741 would allow state agencies to provide childcare services for state employees within state-owned office buildings.

On average, Tennessee families pay roughly $7,400 a year for child care. Senator Sara Kyle referenced that number in a Monday press conference, and that it breaks down to $600 a month.

But with the help of Senate Bill 741 state employees could pay for the child care on a sliding scale based on an employee’s household income. With that child care being within steps of that employee’s desk.

“The lack of quality, affordable childcare is a real problem for many young parents,” said Sen. Kyle.

Senator Kyle says it’s estimated 48 percent of people living in Tennessee live in a child care desert. This means there are three times as many children as licensed child care providers.

“By providing this opportunity for vendors to open in our state buildings is invaluable to our young working parents,” she said.

While this bill would only impact state employees the senator believes it would free up spots at other daycares.

Similar legislation is in place already in states like Illinois, New York, Texas, and West Virginia.

Senator Kyle believes a bill like this would provide an incentive for state employees to stay on rather than leaving their jobs because of the lack of daycare options or costs.

Senator Kyle predicts rural counties may be most likely to take advantage of the bill.

The bill is set to be discussed Tuesday in committee.

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