NJACCRRA - NJ Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
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Communities & Businesses: Introduction 

Communities & Businesses Why should employers take an active role in child care? - It's Good Business!

Today's workforce has changed dramatically compared to 30 years ago. The majority of skilled employees currently in the workforce are parents with child care needs. In 2009, 87.8% of families with children had an employed parent. In single parent households headed by a female, 67.8% of the mothers were employed. In households headed by a single father, 76.6% of the dads were employed. In married couple families with children, 59.8% of both parents were in the workforce (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).

Over three-quarters of women who have school-age children are employed. Sixty-five percent of mothers with children under the age of six are in the workforce. Fifty-seven percent of mothers with infants under the age of one are in the workforce. By the next decade, it is likely that working women will outnumber working men.

Many families are struggling to balance family and work while providing their children with quality care. Working parents with young children are experiencing increased work-family conflict. Today's jobs not only consume more time, they also consume more physical and emotional energy.

The above factors make the availability of quality child care even more critical to parents, and, as the following research indicates, for employers as well:
  • Child care breakdowns leading to employee absences cost businesses $3 billion annually in the United States.
  • The average American working parent misses nine days of work per year (Carillo, 2004).
The availability of quality child care for employees is important to employers because it improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, and cuts turnover.

According to the National Study of the Changing Workforce (2008), supportive work-life policies and practices, such as child care for employees, makes sense on many levels. Savings are seen in recruitment areas, less job turnover, lower absenteeism, and increased productivity. Also included is the strengthening of the company's business image.

By helping parents find child care solutions you will be on the road to getting the most productivity from your staff.

Employee sponsored child care programs are cost effective:

Employee sponsored child care programs are cost effective. The National Study of the Changing Workforce by the Families and Work Institute found that:
  • Two-thirds of employers report that benefits of child care programs exceed costs or that the programs are cost-neutral;
  • Three-quarters of employers who offer flexible work schedules find that benefits exceed costs or that the programs are cost-neutral; and
  • Of those employers with family leave policies, three-quarters find that the benefits exceed costs or that the programs are cost-neutral.
Future Workforce Development:
Good child care is also an investment in the future workforce. Research indicates that high quality child care for young children directly affects the productivity of both the current and the future workforce.

How Employers Can Get Involved in Child Care:
There are a wide variety of child care benefits and supports that you can offer your employees. All of the options described here can be implemented solely within your company or as part of a larger community initiative. Many of these options can be implemented with little to no cost to the company.
  • Providing Child Care Information - Employees with child care needs are often unaware or unsure of where to turn for answers to questions about child care. In order to help employees become effective and well-educated consumers, employers can provide information and counseling about available child care arrangements. This service often includes education for parents about what constitutes quality programs and subsidies available for lower-income families
  • Hosting Parenting or Child Care Seminars - Hold lunchtime or after work seminars to inform working parents about available child care resources and parenting supports. Local resource and referral professionals can be invited to make presentations to your employees. Information can also be disseminated through bulletin boards, newsletters, or a library.
  • Developing flex-time and leave policies - In trying to balance work and family responsibilities, time and scheduling problems often arise. Parents' work schedules are interrupted by child care breakdowns, illnesses, and family needs that cost employers in lost work time. Employers can help avert these conflicts through flex-time and flexible leave policies such as flexible scheduling, compressed time, job sharing, part time options, telecommuting, extended Parental Leave, Use of Sick Leave for Family Illness and Personal Leave.
  • Providing subsidies for employees' child care expenses - Child care expenses can place severe financial strain on a family. Many families spend at least 10% of their income to pay for child care services. In single-parent or low-income families, that percentage can be considerably higher. The high cost of care prevents some families from choosing the highest quality care. As a result, parents may select unstable arrangements that create greater stress and reduce their effectiveness at work, and may compromise their child's development. Employers can help families with child care costs in a number of ways including: Dependent Care Spending Assistance Plans (DCAP); Flexible Benefit Plans, Child Care Vouchers or Reimbursements; and Child Care Vendor Plans.
  • Creating and Supporting Child Care Services - Employers can elect to provide or support the creation of child care services themselves by developing an On-Site or Near-Site Child Care Center or by partnering with other employers in the area to share the expenses of operating a child care center for their employees. Additional child care support services may include: Back-up or Emergency Care; Sick Child Care; Odd Hour Care; Before/After School Programs; Summer Camp and School Holiday Care.
How to Get Started - Your Local CCR&R Can Help: Your county child care resource and referral agency can assist your organization in addressing child care related employee work and family issues. Child care resource and referral agencies are the hub of child care activity in your community, providing a range of services and programs that are responsive to diverse needs and provide access for all families. In addition to sharing information about local early childhood programs such as early care and education centers, Head Start, family child care, and school-age and out-of-school time programs, CCR&Rs can link families to other needed support services and assist businesses in developing child care programs.

CCR&Rs can provide the following core services and programs:
  • Child care referrals for your employees.
  • Information on and access to child care subsidy programs.
  • Consumer education for parents on how to select quality child care.
  • Data collection and analysis. CCR&Rs are the number one source of all the latest information on early childhood services in your community and across the country. CCR&R staff is available to sit on planning committees to provide data, research and lend technical support in the development of workplace child care programs.
  • Training. Highly trained professionals, with knowledge of current trends and information in the early childhood field, are available to provide training on a wide variety of topics tailored to your needs.
  • Technical Assistance. CCR&R staff can provide technical assistance to aid in the development and implementation of a child care program.
  • Advocacy. CCR&Rs participate in a variety of advocacy efforts to ensure that all families have equal access to affordable, high quality child care.
For more information on how your local CCR&R can assist you in developing an employee child care program to meet your needs, contact your local child care resource and referral agency. Click here for a list of NJ CCR&Rs.

Also, click here to visit the Employers and Business Publications page for tools to assist your business in assessing and addressing employee child care needs.

References

Bond, James T., Ellen Galinsky, and Kelly Sakai (2008). The 2008 National Study of Employers, Families and Work Institute.

Bond, James T., Ellen Galinsky, and Jennifer E. Swanberg (1998). The 1997 National Study of the Changing Workforce, Families and Work Institute.

Carillo, C. ( 2004). A totally new way to think about back-up care. Work and Family Connection. Guest Column

Employment Characteristics of Families Summary May 2010, US Bureau of Labor Statistics.