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Pinellas County School District offers affordable day care services for employees

Exterior of Pinellas County Public Schools building
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The district plans to set up the daylong child care service in unused space at Pinellas Secondary School in Pinellas Park.

A more affordable day care option in Pinellas County is set to open late July. The district will expand its services to offer 160 seats.

Pinellas County School district employees with young children can benefit from a new, more affordable day care option for children aged 12 to 48 months.

The district plans to set up the service in unused space at Pinellas Secondary School in Pinellas Park, with costs expected to be about half of the average child care expenses in the county.

Laura Hine is the school board chair for Pinellas County schools.

She told a recent school board meeting that the plan will help them recruit employees.

“The No. 1 issue facing the workforce in Florida is child care. Can’t find it, can’t afford it. And that is the same with us and being the largest employer like we are,” Hine said. “This is a huge, huge move to recruit and maintain our employees.”

This initiative will address monetary challenges faced by teachers in the county.

“I mean, we know that the No. 1 impact on a student is their teacher, and certainly all the staff in the school as well. And right now our teachers are being impacted by affordability, and they're being impacted by family responsibilities,” Hine said. “I just want to raise the focus on trying to provide the kinds of opportunities for teachers and staff so that we can recruit and retain the best and brightest.”

The new day care plan will initially offer 160 seats, prioritizing employees based on their percentage of district staff, so approximately 54% for teachers, 42% for support staff and 4% for administrators.

These seats will fill four classrooms of 1-year-olds, five classrooms of 2-year-olds and three classrooms of 3-year-olds.

In terms of expanding, Superintendent Kevin Hendrick expressed optimism in the recent school board meeting toward future expansion.

“I do think there's a possibility that once we get this up and running, and if we have space in other buildings, this could be something we could replicate,” Hendrick said.

The service is expected to begin in late July.

“I imagine a day where it does expand and Pinellas County Schools provide child care as a term of employment,” Hine said. “We have teachers and staff members having to decide to leave, because they cannot find that care.”

Kayla Kissel is a WUSF Rush Family Radio News intern for spring of 2024.