State attorney’s office seeks funding to offer daycare services to employees

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The state rejected a funding request that the Orange-Osceola state attorney said could have helped with an employee shortage.

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It was part of the record $3.1 billion the governor cut from the budget.

The cost of daycare for one child can cost a parent at least $1,000 a month, but the new daycare would have cost the state attorney employees less than $300 a month.

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Now, they’re hoping the county may help with funding, and they need something else from the county, too.

Every parent in Central Florida gets it. State Attorney Monique Worrell, a mom, showed Channel 9 where her office had grand plans outlined in a proposal to make room for an employee daycare.

“We are in an employment crisis. We have a difficult time hiring and retaining individuals because of the low pay that we’re able to offer,” Worrell said. “Our staff individuals just got raises to $15 an hour, and for a graduating law student, I (offer) a salary of $53,000 a year.”

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Worrell worked with Sen. Randolph Bracy, who convinced lawmakers to earmark $380,000 in the state budget for the daycare, which would house 68 children from infants to 4-year-old.

But the funding was not included in the final budget Gov. Ron DeSantis signed, along with hundreds of other line items that he rejected from across the state, some of which he described as a slush fund for lawmakers trying to appease their local constituency.

Worrell has sent the proposal to Orange County, which raised concerns about licensing, insurance, liability and backgrounds, all of which her staff addressed. She also attached letters of support from four county commissioners who are equally concerned about the overall cost of child care for all parents.

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In addition to funding, Worrell said the office also needs the county to approve renovations to that space.

A spokesperson for county management is reviewing the proposal, but at this point, the project must still go through the approval process.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.