How it all began
While on maternity leave with her first child, Lynn began to have second thoughts about returning to her job after her leave was over. She loved being a mother and she didn’t want to miss a moment of her baby’s development. And like all new mothers, she felt that no one would care for her baby like she did. That’s when she began to look into what would be required to open her own family child care home.
In 1983, Lynn officially opened her home and her heart to the children of the Tampa Bay area and Lynn’s Tender Touch Daycare was born.
Fifteen years (and another pregnancy) later, Lynn began to think about returning to work outside of her home. It was a difficult decision for Lynn to make. She loved the children and families that she worked with and the bonds she had formed with them were unbreakable. But, knowing that she still had just enough time to build a retirement fund if she went back to work, Lynn decided to close her daycare and begin to look for a job with a company offering a good benefits package.
Operating her daycare made Lynn realize that she truly enjoyed making a difference in the lives of others, so she decided to look for a job where she could continue to help people.
Working for local law enforcement agencies provided just what she was looking for. Lynn worked four years with the Pinellas Park Police Department and an additional year with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office as an Intox Operator in their S.T.E.P division working over 400 DUI’s with her division.
A young woman’s plea
In late 2001, a young woman came into the agency where Lynn was working and asked to speak to her. When Lynn looked up to see who her visitor was, she was shocked to see that the young woman was one who, many years before, had been a child in her family child care home along with her brother and sister.
After a few moments of hugging and excited chatter, the young woman explained the real purpose of her visit. She had just had her first baby and she was looking for a child care provider so she could return to work. She wanted the same loving care for her child that she had received all those years before. She asked Lynn if there was a possibility that she would ever get back into child care. She told her that she didn’t want to return to work if she didn’t have “Mrs. Lynn” to watch her daughter.
Lynn was so touched by this mothers plea, that she went home that night and discussed the situation with husband, Jim. Lynn loved her work in law enforcement agencies, but in truth, she really missed the children she cared for.
Ultimately, Lynn’s love for children won out and with her husband’s full support, Lynn’s Tender Touch Daycare re-opened its doors in 2002.
See the sidebar for information about the bills Lynn was responsible for getting passed.
Making A Difference
Working in law enforcement, made Lynn keenly aware of the plight of evening and night-shift workers such as nurses, fire fighters, police officers and coast guard officers, to find quality, reliable child care. These people routinely worked 12-hour shifts, second and third shifts and even shifts lasting up to three days at a time.
At the time, laws were in place that made it illegal for these people to leave their children in the care of a child care provider for longer than 12 consecutive hours. This meant that they had to ask friends, family or unlicensed baby-sitters to care for their children while they worked to ensure the safety of everyone else.
It just didn’t seem fair to Lynn, so she decided to do something about it.
It took a few years, but eventually Lynn had drafted her first bill and began to push for it to be made into law in Tallahassee.
This law, which allowed children to stay in licensed child care homes for more than 24 hours and up to 72 hours, passed in 2007.
Lynn has passed other bills since that one, the most recent being a law that passed in 2011 which requires that people advertising child care services must show their license or registration number in the advertisement. People who fail to provide this information in their ads face a misdemeanor charge.
According to Lynn, “Unlicensed, unscreened people that you don’t know, don’t make the best people to care for your children.”
It’s all about keeping kids safe and Lynn wouldn’t have it any other way.