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How to assess offering a childcare benefit

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Saturday, September 01, 2007

IT’S A COMPETITIVE WORKPLACE out there and attracting and retaining valuable employees is no easy feat. Offering childcare options is one of the ways employers can increase their appeal to potential workers.

Ty Durekas, CEO of San Francisco-based Children’s Creative Learning Centers, a division of Portland-based Knowledge Learning Corp., says companies have a couple of options when it comes to establishing childcare. Opening up a daycare center within company headquarters isn’t a choice for many employers, but neither is it the only way to offer a childcare benefit.

After completing a needs assessment and determining what type of childcare employees would most like — infants and young children or summer programs to name a few — Durekas encourages employers to look at the availability of space.

If creating onsite space isn’t possible, companies should broaden their search to about a mile outside of the office, looking for other childcare providers that could become potential partners.

Many companies choose to pool resources with a local provider such as CCLC or join a consortium center rather than build their own onsite care facilities.

“At a consortium center, employers share expenses for high-quality care,” says Durekas.

Durekas estimates that a 10,000 square-foot facility serving 100 children, in a company of about 2,000 employees, would cost about $2 million to build from scratch. That price tag could drop by half if space is found in another building such as a consortium center.

Another option for daycare is sponsorship. The federal government, the City of Portland and Metro sponsor the four sites of the Joyful Noise Child Development Center. In a sponsorship, children of the sponsor’s employees are given priority for placement.

Joyful Noise director Heidi Anderson says being able to have one’s children in close proximity is a huge benefit to employees.   

In the end providing childcare demonstrates the company’s understanding of their workforce and their needs. Childcare can help attract and retain employees, says Durekas.

“It drives hiring,” he says. “It’s a fantastic tool employees look for.”

Sometimes what’s best for Junior is also best for the boss.

COLLEEN MORAN


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