By Kiet Do

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — A Bay Area sheriff is hoping to boost ranks with a new plan to help cover the cost of child care.

Finding reliable and affordable daycare is one of the biggest problems Bay Area parents face.

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Sure, Google might have free lunches and snacks, napping pods, and bicycles.

And Facebook has that rooftop park.

But Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is thinking big.

She’s asking for round-the-clock, affordable childcare for her deputies.

Smith said that while she wishes her office had the resources of Facebook or Google, “I think it’s a great commitment. And I think it would be really, really good to get really good quality people.”

The fact is that when new deputies first graduate from the academy they’re often stuck working the graveyard shift for years.

Smith said they lose out on quality applicants who can’t find or can’t afford the childcare to cover the unusual hours.

Smith said, “Many, many deputies, women and men, have this as an issue. But it’s particularly an issue for single parents, and it’s a job you don’t go into because childcare is just not available.”

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Santa Clara Sheriff’s Sgt. Kattia Zavaleta has four kids, and a fiancée who is also in law enforcement. When the kids were younger, a small army of relatives helped watch them while she was working overnights.

Zavaleta said, “I had my mom, cousins, nephews, you know. I had to make it work.”

She says round the clock childcare will be a powerful recruiting tool for people who would normally be driven away by the off hours.

Deputies wouldn’t have to stagger their hours with their spouse, which means they could spend more quality time together.

And deputies trying to climb the ranks wouldn’t have to sacrifice career options.

Zavaleta said, “They will be able to go to different specialized positions, get promoted more. They’d be able to drop their kids off at the early hours because your regular childcare is usually 7 to 5, but we have to be there early.”

If the plan works, the county just might expand it into other 24/7 careers like doctors and nurses at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

County employee Poorva Desai also thinks that would help retain good employees.

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Desai said, “When I’m working long hours or weird hours, I want to know my kids are safe and near me, if I want to check on them. So it would be a great idea.”