Chamber Breakfast Speaker Series

Sponsors sought for series addressing childcare crisis in Farragut, Knox Co.

Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce is helping businesses look at solutions to the childcare crisis in Farragut and Knox County with its upcoming Breakfast Speaker Series.

The breakfast starts at 7:30 a.m., followed by a panel discussion of speakers at 8 a.m., expected to end at 9 a.m., Wednesday, June 5, with featured speakers, Matt Ryerson, CEO, United Way of Greater Knoxville; Bart McFadden, CEO, Boys & Girls Club of Tennessee Valley; and state Sen. Becky Massey (R-District 6).

“We talk to employers and working parents every single week who tell us how hard it is to find good, affordable daycare options, and this conversation, unfortunately, has not changed much over the last several years,” FWKCC president/CEO Julie Blaylock said. “Many new parents have been on waiting lists since they found out they were having a baby — sometimes even before that.

“If parents can find daycare availability, the next issue is the expense,” she added. “And, while daycare costs have risen exorbitantly, the tax credit cap to offset childcare costs hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

For example, “One of our volunteers recently shared that they opted for their spouse to stay at home to care for the kids when they realized the cost of daycare would take all but $25/month of their spouse’s income,” Blaylock recalled. “Countless other Chamber members who own businesses talk about how the childcare issue affects their workforce.

“Many have had working parents take leave to have a child and then don’t come back, either because they’re still on a waiting list or they realize the expense is too high,” she added. “Employers and employees both talk about being short-staffed because school closed early or closed entirely last minute and there are no last-minute childcare options available.

“Then you have industries who operate outside a normal Monday through Friday workday schedule. Those parents are even more challenged to find childcare that accommodates that schedule.”

Blaylock hopes the Breakfast Speaker Series will give “a much louder voice to the issue; let members of our business community share their challenges and hopefully understand how they can support solutions at the legislative level, but also get creative in being part of the solution locally.

“Until we started seeing massive workforce gaps, it’s a problem that I think got dismissed as something just parents needed to figure out,” she added. “But it’s not just the parents’ problem; it is all of our problem.”

According to the website for Tennesseans for Quality Early Education — a statewide, bipartisan nonprofit organization — the impact of inadequate child care on Tennessee parents, businesses and taxpayers amounts to $122 million annually in lost earnings and revenue.

“Talk to most Knoxville parents of children under age 5, and you’re likely to hear how difficult it is to find child care that’s accessible, affordable and of sufficient quality to support their child’s school readiness,” the website stated.

“An overwhelming 94 percent of Knoxville parents said inadequate child care hurt their work productivity and/or career opportunities,” the website further stated. “Productivity challenges affect both employer and employee.”

Cost to attend the event is $35 for Chamber members, $40 for non-members and $350 for a table of 10 with logo. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting

Additionally, there are sponsorship slots available for

the Breakfast Speaker Series. Currently, East Tennessee Health Plan and Kids Cove Drop-In Day Care are community sponsors.