Advocates push for childcare scholarships through TN bill
Bill would help low and middle income families afford childcare for children 5 and under.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - More than 150 child advocates encouraged Tennessee lawmakers to support a bill that would offer scholarships for children to attend childcare and learning programs.
The Promising Futures Act would be a state-run program to help low and middle income families afford childcare for their kid through the age of 5.
Among the people advocated for the bill at the State Capitol on Wednesday were mothers Laura McConnell and Natalie Jackson. Working on behalf of the organization, Save the Children, the have experienced high costs and long waits for childcare.
“If you’re making 9 or 10 dollars an hour, you can’t afford the $150 a week or $200 a week that you’re going to end up spending in some places to get your kid quality care,” McConnell said.
A study from Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE) found businesses and taxpayers in the state lose $2.6 billion a year because parents have problems accessing childcare.
“As a working mom, it’s very hard to try to do both,” Jackson said. “One big thing is, you feel hopeless, because you want for your child to have quality education in a very structured environment where they can learn and thrive.”
The Promising Futures Act proposes that the state’s tax revenue from sports gambling to be allocated for the potential new scholarship program.
The Senate Education Committee discussed the bill at its meeting on Wednesday. The bill was recommended for passage and referred to the Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.
Part of Jackson and McConnell’s reason for advocating for it is thinking about what it could have meant for them.
“It definitely would have given me the opportunity to expand my schooling. It would have given me the opportunity to finish a master’s degree,” McConnell, who has five children, said.
“It would have just opened endless possibilities for me,” Jackson said. “That burden of me going to school and (thinking), ‘Oh, is my child safe?’ or ‘Will I be able to afford it this week?’ because there were weeks where I could not afford childcare for my child at the time.”
Click to read TQEE’s childcare study.
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