Child care is an economic development issue for our businesses.
We see it all of the time: our young, energetic employee has a child and their attention shifts. Young parents weigh paying tuition between $175-390 a week for child care (in St. Johnsbury, Montpelier and Burlington) with leaving the workforce to stay home with their child. This isn’t only a women’s issue. Increasingly, fathers are the stay-at-home parent if it doesn’t make economic sense to continue working when their entire paycheck goes to paying for child care. When parents are worried about the health and safety of their kids, they are distracted throughout the day. Productivity suffers when their employees’ child care is unstable or inconsistent. As a result many parents struggle with staying in their job if child care is unaffordable.
Employers who can offer quality child care to their employees are more likely to attract and retain a stellar workforce. John Simard, the Chief Financial Officer of software developer Vermont Information Processing (VIP) in Colchester says that he faces stiff competition for the best and the brightest in the tech field in Chittenden County and considers his on-site child care center as one of the key attraction and retention points for his employees.
The Permanent Fund for Vermont’s Children is encouraging the creation of regional business-supported child care efforts. The concept was born when we heard from business leaders who want to a gold standard employer. They understand the challenges that their employees face in finding and affording high-quality child care, particularly for infants and toddlers. They would like to offer a child care benefit to their employees but can’t carry the financial risk of an entire center on their own—or they simply don’t know where to start. There are several opportunities for a business to support its employees in this way:
- Human Resources Benefits
- Business consortium model or on-site child care
Businesses can dedicate financial resources to a fund for child care scholarships. This can be for your employees specifically, or for community children.
Human Resources Benefits.
There are benefits that you can offer your employees, including managing a flexible spending plan for dependent care, offering a stipend to offset your employees’ child care costs, and offering general information about how to find high quality care.
Business Consortium Model for Child Care.
Work with other like-minded businesses in your area to build a business supported child care consortium. The business consortium model is when five, 10, or 20 companies pool their resources. They can offer a benefit to their employees that will improve employee productivity, morale and retention: quality, affordable child care in a location that’s convenient to their place of work that addresses the gap between affordability for parents and affordability for providers. The first two pilots are starting in the South End of Burlington and in Montpelier in 2016 and 2017, respectively. To achieve a business-supported child care consortium, each employer commits to an annual amount that helps to balance the cost of offering high-quality care and guarantees their employees a lower-cost child care slot. The employee has the reassurance of knowing that their children will be in a high-quality setting at an affordable price and the employer has a motivated, focused and productive employee.
The Permanent Fund is committed to supporting businesses as they move forward with any of these three opportunities in order to create a thriving community and a prosperous economy in Vermont.
Founded in 2000, the Permanent Fund is a philanthropic organization that partners with other early childhood organizations to promote access to high quality, affordable early care and learning in Vermont. The Permanent Fund is the parent organization of two early childhood initiatives—Let’s Grow Kids and Vermont Birth to Five—which are supported in collaboration with two other major philanthropic organizations: The A. D. Henderson Foundation and The Turrell Fund.