Child Care Crisis: A few employers investing in child care services to improve worker retention
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Imagine taking your kids to work every day because there are child care services not far from your desk. It’s a reality for thousands in the Ozarks. It’s a possible solution to our child care crisis.
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It’s just part of the business. Not too far from the semi-trucks, there’s a child care center.
“I think it has been a huge blessing for the associates here at Prime. For them not to worry about where their kids are going to go,” said Anna Messick with Prime Kids.
Prime Kids is a child care center for Prime families at Springfield’s trucking company headquarters.
“We have parents come down and feed their babies. They’ll eat lunch with their kids and read them books. It’s just nice,” said Messick.
Messick runs the center and also has her daughter here. Without this setup, she’d be home. The same goes for Jamie Miller.
“I come to drop him off first thing and then walk straight to my desk and start working,” said Miller.
The cost of care comes out of parents’ weekly paychecks. There are about 70 kids enrolled, with plans to expand. No doubt, this is a significant investment, but there’s worker retention.
“We are able to work longer days if needed because the child care center is open,” said Messick.
CoxHealth provides child care. There are three learning centers with a total of about four hundred kids. Not all workers can get their kids in. It can be a two-year wait.
“We have lots of parents that call every week to see if they’ve moved up on the list. We evaluate every day if we can bring more in with the staff we have. We would love to help more families, but at the moment, with the staff that we have, we support as many children as we can,” said Kristy Eggleston with Cox Learning Center.
CoxHealth workers get priority. CoxHealth invests about one million dollars every year to keep these centers going.
“That is a heavy cost and burden. Not all employers have the ability or budget to do that. That’s maybe where we can connect them to providers to at least subsidize slots. Then they don’t have that cost of building infrastructure on site,” said Sally Payne with Springfield Workforce Development.
The Cox South facility is open to the public after 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends.
There’s now more money available, ten million dollars, for Missouri businesses to startup child care centers for their workers. Businesses must apply with the state. It will likely be October before the startup applications are open.
“You have to go into it realizing it’s not going to be a money-making, revenue-generating concept. It’s literally about investing in your human capital and your employees,” said Payne.
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