A final election story: Free child care at the polls

By Brenda Brissette-Mata

ESCANABA - It doesn’t take long to vote. A few minutes in line, a few minutes to fill out the ballot and you’re done.

But the process can slow down considerably when you have children. Get the kids in the car, get the kids out of the car, keep an eye on them while in line to get the ballot, and then how do you keep them happy while you vote?

The Delta-Schoolcraft Counties Great Start Collaborative (GSC) has come up with a unique solution, which it will employ during Tuesday’s election – free child care at a polling place.

Tara Weaver, director of the collaborative, said the topic came up during a conversation with Great Start Parent Coalition Liaison Vickie Maher.

“We wondered if we might be able to offer some sort of little day care on site - some way that we could keep kids busy for a few minutes so parents could vote.”

“We don’t want parents to have to worry. Maybe one of the kids is feeling crabby and you start to think, ‘Is it worth it? Maybe I just won’t go.’ I’ve been in that position,” added Weaver, who is the mother of three children, ages 4, 6, and 9.

They took the idea to a recent Parent Coalition meeting and parents there loved it. They immediately offered to staff a polling place child care at Escanaba City Hall from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday.

Because the service will be offered while parents are on-site there was no problem with licensing or red tape.

The coalition plans activities for the children, including coloring pages and games, like a “cast your vote” fishing game.

And, for parents, the coalition will also provide a table of information about the work of Great Start and how to join the parent coalition.