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Pittsburgh mayor, council members propose free child care at public meetings, on school holidays

Matthew Santoni
| Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, 4:21 p.m.
Councilman Daniel Gilman
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
Councilman Daniel Gilman

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and City Council members Dan Gilman and Deb Gross are burning the baby sitters' vote.

The mayor and the East End council members are proposing that the city provide free child care to employees on the 15 days a year when Pittsburgh Public Schools are closed but city offices are open — mostly holiday breaks, teachers' professional days or election days, Gilman said.

On-site child care would also be made available to the public at up to 20 city-sponsored community meetings per year, such as budget meetings or public hearings. Snow days would not be covered because of the short notice, Gilman said.

“As a city where the input of all residents is valued, we must ensure that family needs do not stand in the way of community involvement and enable more Pittsburghers to become active members of their neighborhoods,” Gilman said in a statement announcing the proposal Monday.

Gilman will ask City Council to issue a request for proposals from potential child-care providers at Tuesday's council meeting, with Gross as a co-sponsor.

The city had a free “pilot” of the program on Rosh Hashana and Election Day this year with local start-up Flexable , Gilman said.

An estimated $50,000 for the project's first year, expected to begin around the same time as the 2018-19 school year, could be drawn from the city's general fund, Gilman said.

“Providing at-work child care is essential for attracting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce, and providing on-site child care at community meetings throughout the year will help eliminate unnecessary barriers that prevent families from investing in their communities,” Peduto said in the release announcing the proposal.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6660, msantoni@tribweb.com or via Twitter @msantoni.

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