MEMPHIS, Tenn. — About 100 Shelby County employees will get a monthly childcare stipend starting next year to help employees offset childcare costs and help the county recruit and retain talent, Mayor Lee Harris said Wednesday.

Harris hosted a working mothers appreciation brunch outside the County’s main downtown building to mark the announcement.

Harris’s Chief of Staff Danielle Inez spoke at the event about the challenge of being a working single mom. She gave an example regarding pickup rules at her son’s pre-school.

“They needed me to be on time to pick him up every day by 6 p.m. I had no grace period,” Inez said. “So, at 6:01 p.m. they started charging me $5 per minute.”

That’s part of why she said she and Harris have pushed to institute family-friendly policies like paid parental leave, she said. Now, Harris said his administration will begin with a new monthly childcare stipend for the lowest-paid county employees starting in 2023.

“Right now, it’s in the pilot phase,” Harris said.

Starting next year, about 100 employees will get $300 a month.

“Our median income, I’d have to look it up, it’s between $40,000 and $50,000. So, it’s for those who make below the median income,” Mayor Harris said.

He said amid the Great Resignation, employers must find new ways like this to attract and retain workers.

“We know we rely on talented moms in our workforce,” Mayor Harris said. “This is a way to recruit and retain them. Obviously moms are juggling career and family. So, they’re incredible multi-taskers. They just bring so much to the table.”

If all goes well, Harris said he hoped to expand the program to serve more employees. Mayor Harris also said he hoped to inspires other employers in the Mid-South to consider a similar benefit.