Smaller businesses leading way in increasing child care offerings 

dfwnewsa | February 10, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Smaller businesses leading way in increasing child care offerings 

The National Trends Report from the Best Place for Working Parents organization was published in late January. (Courtesy image | Best Place for Working Parents)
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“Micro” businesses are leading the way in offering onsite child care, according to a new study from Fort Worth-based Best Place for Working Parents. 

The number of overall businesses offering the option also is increasing.

“With micro businesses, which we define as between one1 to 24 employees, they are second behind large businesses in offering onsite child care, which is really interesting to think about,” said Sadie Funk, national director of the public-private partnership. 

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That mirrors an earlier study from the organization in November that showed small businesses that offer benefits such as health coverage, parental leave and flexible work options report improvements in employee productivity, motivation, satisfaction and health. 

The data from the latest research, based on input from more than 2,000 companies in 10 states across the U.S., indicates that companies are making the connection between providing child care options and maintaining a stable workforce, Funk said. 

“Not just onsite child care, we saw increases in child care assistance and backup child care,” she said. “I think that really points to this larger narrative that employers really understand the connections between access to child care and an employee base that’s able to show up in a meaningful way at work.”

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About 13% of businesses responding to the survey had an onsite child care policy in 2023, up 47% since 2019. 

Currently, 16% of large businesses employing 1,000 or more workers offer onsite child care, according to the study. But “micro businesses” with one to 24 workers were second most likely. That was followed by 10% of small businesses employing 25 to 200 workers, and 8% of medium-sized businesses with 201 to 999 employees. The top two sectors with business most likely to offer in-house care services were education, as well as agriculture, forestry and wildlife.

The report examines the 10 evidence-based benefits and policies implemented by businesses with family-friendly work environments, and highlights the competitive advantage these benefits provide in attracting and retaining employees. In its second year, the report introduces industry insights to assist business leaders in comprehending which family-friendly policies have become standard practice, and which can help businesses stand out in their industry.

Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center Fort Worth has added an array of offerings aimed at being more family friendly, officials said. Along with options such as parental leave and family leave, in the past 18 months, the organization began offering more education benefits, said Charles Williams, president of the medical center, which has over 400 employees. 

“We realized we need to ensure that our people are bringing everything that they have to work, that they’re bringing their passion and skills, so that they can deliver that care each day,” he said. “So we want to make sure, not just at work, but at home and in their communities, they are doing well.” 

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Funk said companies understand how important providing child care or being open to making work life adjustments can be effective tools to keep employees.

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“Even options like flexible work hours or working from home on some days can help retain employees,” she said. “We know that 73% of credentialed women who have left the workforce would have stayed with more access to flexibility alone.” 

Businesses offering onsite child care for employees experience a 7.4 times higher retention rate for employees, Funk said. 

Baylor Scott & White’s Williams said it also started to focus on mental health benefits for employees. 

“There’s really no sector of our population that’s excluded from this — behavioral health, stress, mental health — we all have it in our lives,” he said. “We try to ensure that we offer behavioral health support, free counseling visits for when life is challenging.” 

Baylor Scott & White is also providing access to mindfulness tools like meditation.  

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“These can be great tools for our employees in their life and work,” he said. 

Key findings from the report: 

On-site child care is growing: While still relatively rare, the implementation rate of on-site child care is growing faster than any other benefit — with a 47% increase since 2019. 

Despite a back-to-the-office push, flexible work arrangements are here to stay: Among the businesses designated as the Best Place for Working Parents, 96% provide the option of flexible work schedules. Along with flexible hours, 93% of designated businesses offer remote work. 

Parental leave and child care support are differentiators in a competitive talent market: Across the Best Place for Working Parents top industries, backup child care, child care assistance, and parental leave policies are benefits that help companies stand out in the current labor market.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at bob.francis@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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