Back-Up Care for the Back-to-School Dance
First day of school, Labor Day, Professional Days, Parent-Teacher Conferences, Columbus Day...Welcome to back-to-school time, otherwise known as, "Seriously?! How can there be so many days off in a row?!" season. Ask working parents who have navigated the back-to-school experience and they'll tell you that the new academic year can feel like a veritable cha-cha of dance maneuvers: three steps forward with regular school days, two steps back with rapid-fire days off. One Massachusetts mom says her local district calendar has exactly one full week of school between the start date in late August and mid-October. "It's exasperating," she says wearily.
Finding the RhythmFor working parents looking to put some comforting rhythm back into their post-summer schedules, this time of year can be a jigsaw puzzle of play dates and favors complicated if you've already used up the good will of friends, parents, and acquaintances to get through the school-free months of July and August. But the alternative is a string of absences that can take a toll on an employer's good will not to mention productivity. A growing number of parents are looking to their employers for help. And, in fact, more and more employers are offering it. Back-up care is becoming a go-to solution, filling in when kids are out of school (again), when caregivers are sick or on vacation, or when regular care isn't available for any reason. On paper, it might seem like a straight-out employee benefit, but organizational proponents recognize its distinct workplace value. Having trusted care for your children solves both the practical matter of getting to work and the distraction of worrying about your family. Simply put, back-up care frees people up physically and mentally. And, "The more focused they can be," says Bright Horizons Chief Human Resources Officer Dan Henry, "the more work gets done."
Back-Up Care is as Easy as A-B-CA calling card of the Bright Horizons Back-Up Care Advantage Program is how easy it is to use. Families register once in advance and then call or log in to make a request any time of day or night (the call center is available 24/7). That means dad can make a Monday-morning meeting even when the sitter calls in sick on Sunday night - or worse, on Monday morning. Parents can choose between bringing their child to a top-notch center or having a carefully screened caregiver from BUCA's large network come right to the house. Many call the latter arrangement particularly convenient for families with more than one child (BUCA also offers in-home care for people caring for adult/elder relatives). Back-up care is available last-minute, year-round. For parents lamenting those numerous "school closed" notations on their fall calendars or anticipating weather cancellations that will inevitably come later the service is a lifesaver.
And the payoffs aren't just for moms and dads. The extra hand from employers goes a long way to boosting productivity and is a big bonus on the recruitment and retention fronts. And, it's a practical solution to the absentee problem. "I can't imagine how many days our offices would be a ghost town in September if we didn't have such a dependable place to bring our kids."