The child care industry has been facing a crisis across the US for years, and COVID-19 has put a spotlight to it, amplifying the reality that childcare is not only expensive, but also widely inaccessible. According to data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, in 2016 alone, almost 2 million parents of children ages five and under had to quit a job, not take a job, or change their job because of problems with access to childcare. Nearly 33% of high performing women drop out of the workforce each year, with 74% citing childcare as the reason (Forbes), and further more, on average, families spend more on child care than on housing, healthcare, food and even college. As the cost of child care continues to rise, and as its accessibility and quality continues to decrease, it’s no surprise that child care is one of the biggest pain points for working parents. It’s also the most significant driver of absenteeism, headcount turnover and lack of productivity (which is driven by lack of concentration, worry and guilt).
Unreliable childcare has impacted the working parent for decades, molding their career paths, or lack thereof in a multitude of ways. Yet t doesn’t just impact working families, it impacts employers, too. While working parents may avoid pursuance of promotions or pass over promotions entirely, decline business related travel and change jobs or careers completely to find those that are offer more flexible scheduling options, employers are hard hit by the loss as well in terms of productivity, culture and morale. Even colleagues, those who are not impacted by childcare (employees who have older children, or who do not have children at all) support the implementation of child care benefits, even without a corresponding benefit for themselves. Why? Because lack of childcare impacts everyone. When there are child care options available to their parent-colleagues, non-parent employees show significantly increased productivity, especially in fields and within companies where team collaboration is high.
As restrictions are loosened and companies call on parents to return to work, they will be put to the challenge of finding safe and affordable child care for their little ones. But due to coronavirus lockdowns, many childcare/daycare services have temporarily or permanently shut down, leaving parents scrambling to find a solution. Even those centers who do make it through without closing completely will be operating at a much lower capacity, with a lot more health and safety regulations put in place, further increasing costs. Working parents are put in a position to make a difficult decision between their careers or their children/families…and a handful are choosing the latter.
Companies competing for top talent will be hard pressed to retain that talent if continuing to only offer the traditional benefits like parental leave, PTO, office snacks and a few basic wellness offerings. Parents value childcare at the same level as salary, healthcare, paid time off and equity when choosing a new role, and a majority would take a job at equal pay if their new employer provided child care benefits. The conclusion here is that employees are demanding benefits aligned with their very urgent and real life-needs, and right now, high quality, onsite or near-site employer sponsored child care is one of them. Especially in the new age of coronavirus, parents are even more concerned about health and safety measures being put into place, and child care is essential now more than ever in helping parents get back to work.
Corporate Spotlight: Vivvi
When it comes to employer-sponsored child care, offerings have been constrained to only the largest companies. Historically, childcare has been expensive and requires long term contracts and capital expenditures to build out dedicated centers that fall short of parents’ expectations. Vivvi has designed an offering that is accessible to companies of all sizes, whether you have 15 employees or 3,000 employees, with one mission: to empower the best employers to honor the potential of their working families by reducing the burden of child care costs and unlocking their best selves.
- Vivvi is the reinvention of daycare and preschool for dual working families. It combines child care, a child learning center and a family activity center into one to provide high-end care and instruction five days a week.
- Hours of operation are geared towards realistic hours for working parents, 7 am to 7 pm, with flexibility around drop off and pick up time. These longer hours with fewer holiday closings benefit parents whose work schedules don’t necessarily line up with more traditional school operating calendars, and Vivvi accepts children ages 6 weeks-5 years old so parents who have to get back to work sooner face one less barrier: child age.
- Employers who offer Vivvi experience an exceptional ROI, and top retention rates of their working parents because Vivvi believes in work/life integration. Parents are encouraged to stop in and say hello to their children during the day, can breastfeed their child instead of pumping at work, and are encouraged to be active participants in their children’s education both in person and through remote technology.
- Vivvi also helps employers apply for federal tax credits that will reduce the cost of tuition for employees. Employers can choose the amount to subsidize for parent-employees either partially subsidizing are sponsoring in full.
- Vivvi has locations in: Tribeca, World Trade Center and Hudson Yards (Coming Soon).
- Vivvi’s doors reopen to families in early August, and they will be giving an overview of their health and safety plan that was built with guidance from the DOH and CDC, share what they have implemented and practiced while being open this summer in partnership with NYP Hospital Network and provide in in depth coverage on new procedures and responsibilities in an upcoming webinar.