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Government, Politics & Issues

Child Care Could Be Coming To A St. Louis County Council Meeting

St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis County Council is considering offering child care at its weekly Tuesday meetings next year in an effort to be more family-friendly.

Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy, D-Maplewood, floated the idea in a letter to her colleagues last month. She hopes that by providing the accommodations, more members of the public will be able to show up. 

“I know, as a working parent myself, that providing an option to have child care at meetings is something that really helps to encourage participation,” she said. 

Clancy envisions the child care services would be available to members of the public who attend the meetings, as well as to county staff and possibly council members who need it, she said. 

The chairwoman has not worked out details of what child care at council meetings might entail. She acknowledged there might be legal concerns and liability issues that would have to be addressed before it could be implemented.

There’s also no money in the county’s current budget for such an arrangement. The earliest the county could implement the plan would be 2021. The council will likely discuss it as part of the budget deliberations next fall, she said. 

“There’s probably a cost associated with it. I don’t know what that is,” she said. 

Clancy got the idea for offering child care at county council meetings from the "Women in the Workforce" task force that County Executive Sam Page organized last year. In a report to Page, the task force recommended that the county provide child care at council meetings.

The task force pointed out that the county already offers free child care at the Pavilion at Lemay, a recreational center in south St. Louis County, for parents who are using the facility to exercise. 

The Missouri Department of Health and Human Services waived licensing and inspections for that child care program because the customers are using it for no more than four hours per day, according to the task force. It said a similar exemption could be used for child care services at council meetings.

Clancy and her Democratic colleagues — all women — hold a majority of the seats on the county council. They are typically at odds with the Republicans, all men, in the minority. The GOP council members said they are open to the child care proposal, but need to know more details about it.

“As far as day care goes, I’m not sure where and how that would take place. You know, I don’t know if the county would have to be licensed to have a day care during the meetings. I’m not opposed to it. I just like to hear the logistics of how it would work,” said Councilman Tim Fitch, R-South County.

Follow Julie on Twitter: @jsodonoghue

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