More Businesses Now Help With Child Care

CHILD-CARE advocates and researchers say that over the past decade there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of American businesses providing child-care assistance. The growth has been ``astronomic,'' says Daniel Dreyer, research assistant in the Work and Family Center of the Conference Board, a nonprofit research firm that tracks business trends. The number of employers in the United States offering child-care assistance rose from 110 in 1978 to 5,400 in 1990, Mr. Dreyer says.

Benefits range from on-site day-care centers to day-care tuition subsidies to employer contracts with referral services. But the percentage of participating companies is still small, given that there are about 6 million businesses in the US.

In 1989, John Hancock Financial Services in Boston surveyed its employees and found that 75 percent of those with children aged 3 to 12 had problems finding and affording high-quality child care.

In response, the company last fall opened its own 41,000 square-foot child-care center (including two outdoor playgrounds) at a cost of $3 million. The center has room for 200 children and boasts state-of-the art equipment.

``If you can't address this kind of need ... it causes people to make decisions they don't want to make - like not working, accepting a job closer to home, or working part-time,'' says David D'Alessandro, senior executive vice president of the retail sector. Hancock also pays more than $1 million a year in subsidies for enrollment. ``It's an incredible recruitment tool,'' he adds.

A stumbling block to companies that want to provide child-care help is ``ignorance of their options,'' says Stuart Cleinman of the Massachusetts Child Care Resource Center. Some officials say that because they can't afford a day-care center, ``there's nothing they can do,'' he says.

But Mr. Cleinman says helping employees with child care has many facets, ranging from flexible work schedules to school-vacation recreation programs to day-care tuition assistance. Massachusetts's Executive Office of Economic Affairs recently published a booklet, ``The Family Care Guide,'' that explains employers' options.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to More Businesses Now Help With Child Care
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today