Marietta school system first to offer free daycare for teachers

The program will be aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 12. The cost to the school district for staff and programming would be about $9,000 for the school year, system spokeswoman Jen Brock said.

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Child care would be provided by City of Marietta Schools staff and contract employees as needed. Brock said children in kindergarten through sixth grade will likely attend daycare at West Side Elementary School while four-year-olds will go to the Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center.

About 52 children have been enrolled in the program so far, which is accepting applications until November.

Rivera said the idea came to him when he was talking with West Side kindergarten teacher Autumn Martin, who taught her daughter last year. He asked her what the school system could do to support the families of Marietta educators. She said one of her biggest struggles is finding daycare on teachers’ working days when students are away.

“It was really that conversation that inspired us to take this opportunity for our staff,” he said.

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September 24, 2019 Marietta – Kelly Hobby plays with her 8-year-old daughter Chloe at their home in Marietta on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Marietta City School System will launch an initiative in January offering child care free to its employees. Kelly Hobby, a teacher at Al Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, is an educator who signed up for the school system’s initiative to provide free child care to its employees. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

September 24, 2019 Marietta - Kelly Hobby plays with her 8-year-old daughter Chloe at their home in Marietta on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Marietta City School System will launch an initiative in January offering child care free to its employees.  Kelly Hobby, a teacher at Al Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, is an educator who signed up for the school system's initiative to provide free child care to its employees.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
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September 24, 2019 Marietta – Kelly Hobby plays with her 8-year-old daughter Chloe at their home in Marietta on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Marietta City School System will launch an initiative in January offering child care free to its employees. Kelly Hobby, a teacher at Al Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, is an educator who signed up for the school system’s initiative to provide free child care to its employees. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Martin’s four-year-old son is enrolled in the system’s Emily Lembeck Early Learning Center. However, when classes are not in session and she has to work, Martin said her husband either has to take time off work or his mother-in-law steps in to help.

Temporary commercial child care can be an expensive solution. Rivera said Martin informed him that child care centers traditionally charge people more money if they need someone to babysit their child for just one day.

Kamal Parag, co-owner and educational program manager at Kids’ Zone Daycare and Learning Center on Johnson Ferry Road in East Cobb, said his company generally charges lower fees for children enrolled full-time compared to children who come occasionally. .

These children are considered “drop-ins” and if you add up these rates, Parag said they cost more than when a child is signed up for the full week. For example, his agency charges between $60 and $85 per day per child for less than three days.

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When it comes to hiring and keeping the best teachers, Rivera said child care has proven to be an attractive extra.

According to Education Week, federal data from 2013-2014 shows that more than 38% of teachers who left the profession did so for personal reasons. Of those who have left teaching, nearly 1 in 10 say they quit their job to care for family members, says Ed Week.

A 2014 study from the University of California, Berkeley found that child care costs were second only to a home loan as the biggest expense for the average family, Ed Week adds.

Margaret Ciccarelli, attorney and director of legislative services for the Professional Association of Educators of Georgia, the school district’s plan will be a tremendous benefit to educators and their children, as the “rising” cost of child care deters many parents to work outside the home.

A school district that understands the importance of quality early learning will boost workplace morale and improve teacher retention and recruitment, she said.

“Marietta is leading what we hope will be a trend that other school districts will follow,” she said.

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September 24, 2019 Marietta – Kelly Hobby watches her 8-year-old daughter Chloe play in their backyard in Marietta on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Marietta City School System will launch an initiative in January offering child care free to its employees. Kelly Hobby, a teacher at Al Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, is an educator who signed up for the school system’s initiative to provide free child care to its employees. Currently, Hobby said she has to rely on friends to watch over her daughter when she has to work on professional development days. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

September 24, 2019 Marietta - Kelly Hobby watches her 8-year-old daughter Chloe play in their backyard in Marietta on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Marietta City School System will launch an initiative in January offering child care free to its employees.  Kelly Hobby, a teacher at Al Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, is an educator who signed up for the school system's initiative to provide free child care to its employees.  Currently, Hobby said she has to rely on friends to watch over her daughter when she has to work on professional development days.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

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September 24, 2019 Marietta – Kelly Hobby watches her 8-year-old daughter Chloe play in their backyard in Marietta on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The Marietta City School System will launch an initiative in January offering child care free to its employees. Kelly Hobby, a teacher at Al Burruss Elementary School in Marietta, is an educator who signed up for the school system’s initiative to provide free child care to its employees. Currently, Hobby said she has to rely on friends to watch over her daughter when she has to work on professional development days. (Hyosub Shin / [email protected])

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

For Hobby, the program will bring him “peace of mind”. On some days, Hobby said she had as many as three friends taking turns watching over her daughter.

Hobby once said that a friend of his watching Chloe forgot to get the girl’s EpiPen before taking her to the next babysitter. Once the school’s new schedule is in place, Hobby said she won’t have to put together childcare plans or worry about what might go wrong.

“If employees can have peace of mind, they can do their jobs better,” she said.

Tricia Fox, who is a teacher at the Early Learning Center, also struggles to find daycare for her three children when classes are not in session. For example, during this year’s pre-planning, she had to work six days before the start of classes to prepare for the 2019-2020 school year. Her family had a babysitter for a day, and her parents and her husband pitched in to cover the rest.

As a working mother, Fox said she believes the school system’s incentive would benefit teachers because it would take something else off their already overloaded plate.

“It’s a great way to help us focus on the classroom while ensuring our own children are taken care of,” she said.

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Jeremy S. McLain