Working Mother

Optimizing Backup Childcare

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Before COVID-19, the animal-health company offered employees whose childcare fell through 10 days a year to send their children to a backup facility run by Bright Horizons. Employees paid $15 a day for one child or $25 daily for two or more kids. Employees who used in-home backup childcare paid $6 an hour, with the rest subsidized by the company, but they had to use a caregiver in the Bright Horizons network.

“We knew right away that our colleagues were being thrown into situations working from home that made it difficult to balance childcare. We were deemed an essential business, so some people had to go into the workplace,” says Roxanne Lagano, executive VP and chief HR officer, global operations.

The company changed its childcare offerings and told employees to use whomever they wanted to watch their child—family members, friends, neighbors—and they could submit for reimbursem­ent of $100 a day for 40 days. Since the policy went into effect in March, 183 have used it, says Tammy Bakos, VP of colleague experience.

As of July 1, the company also added Sittercity, an online referral service provided at no cost to employee-caregivers.

“We learned that childcare is fundamenta­l to operating our business. Unless we are able to support childcare, our colleagues won’t be able to operate productive­ly,” Lagano says.

Employees agree. “Having the backup care was very helpful for me in the beginning to set up our new ‘normal’ at home. It acted like a transition period for my boys and me to build a schedule. Although I still get the ‘Mom, I’m hungry’ or ‘I have to go potty’ during conference calls, at least I had a support system in place that didn’t put me out financiall­y,” says Adrienne McAleer, manager, equine marketing innovation.

“My son is 10 years old and developmen­tally delayed, so he is in special-needs class at school and needs more help than typical kids his age,” says Taru Jain, senior director, IT program management office. “This benefit has been a lifesaver because we were able to employ a sitter to help my son with logging on for school classes, following teachers’ instructio­ns, being able to focus, and eat his lunch.”

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