The city of Brookhaven is launching “Kids Night In” on Tuesday, March 14, a program that provides supervised child care for parents who want to attend City Council meetings at City Hall.

The six-month pilot program by the Parks and Recreation Department will offer children supervised activities and is believed to be the first of its kind in local government.

The child care will be offered the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month during the work sessions that starts at 3:30 p.m. and the City Council meetings that start at 7 p.m. The program beginning Tuesday will be for a six-month trial period before a decision is made if it will be offered permanently.

“People who want to engage their government can do so in Brookhaven without worrying about what to do with the children,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst in a press release. “They can bring them here.”

The idea to offer child care stems from corporate America, said City Manager Christian Sigman in the press release.

“Large entities like Ikea, Home Depot and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta utilize on-site child care to promote families while achieving maximum engagement in the workplace,” Sigman said. “We thought, why not modify that strategy to make our local government more accessible in Brookhaven?”

“Kids Night In” will feature a well supervised area for children to play games, watch movies or work on homework during city council work sessions and business meetings, beginning at 3:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Kids Night In will continue until the end of the City Council meeting, no matter how late.

“We’ll have professional Parks Department staff on hand at City Hall until the closing gavel. We’ll be here until the very end,” said Parks and Recreation Director Brian Borden.

Children must be in good health and between 5 and 12 years old to attend Kids Night In. Light refreshments will also be available.

“As a single parent who wants to stay informed and engaged with the many exciting things happening in Brookhaven, this initiative by the city is great news,” said Brookhaven resident Marian Liou in the press release.  “I love this idea and I hope many families with young children take this opportunity to get involved. Date night at City Hall, see you there.”

After the six-month pilot concludes,the program will be reviewed and evaluated.

“Citizen involvement should not compete with families or family values. I think that if families aren’t forced to make that choice, they will choose to participate,” said Mayor Ernst. “If this is as successful as I think it will be, you’ll see other cities following Brookhaven’s lead.”

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.