My Employer Child Care Story: Does It Really Make a Difference?

teacher and toddler in corporate child care center

The following post was written by Nancy Burlingame, Vice President, Client Relations at Bright Horizons.

I always knew I wanted to be a working mom.  I started my career in early childhood education as a teacher in a large child care organization. When I found out I was expecting, I was shocked to discover that my employer didn't offer any child care benefits. What? A well-known child care organization didn't support its own employees with the benefit they offered to others? I was so surprised, and at a total loss for what I was going to do.

I investigated so many options, but was unable to find a child care center I could afford that offered the level of care I was providing for others.  Like many other moms, I started to think I just wouldn't return to work after the baby arrived.

Giving Up a Job I Loved

Ultimately, after a long decision-making process, I did choose a child care provider and return to my then-employer. But soon, one of the other parents at my child's center mentioned that a Bright Horizons Children's Center was opening up in the area. I immediately got down to researching this company.

I grew increasingly excited by what I discovered. Bright Horizons, which was less than 30 centers at the time, offered amazing employee benefits. My child could have a high-quality care and learning experience while I worked in a classroom a few doors down the hall. The downside was that the center wouldn't be open for another 18 months, as the ground breaking hadn't even happened yet.

Fast forward to the birth of my second child. While still in the hospital, I received a message on my answering machine (yes, it was that long ago) from the Bright Horizons recruiting department. They wanted to interview me! I was so excited that I scheduled it for the day I left the hospital. The rest is history.

The Moral of the Story

I'm sure by now that you've figured out the moral of this story. I was working for an employer who I liked, but when it mattered most to me, they didn't offer the benefits I needed. I was hesitant to leave because I really loved what I was doing. But once I started researching the benefits that competitors offered, I realized I could keep doing the work I loved while working for an employer who supports employees with benefits that are truly meaningful.

These kinds of scenarios play out in real life every day. In a 2013 study on corporate child care conducted by Horizons Workforce Consulting, 92% of respondents said that employer-sponsored care would be important when considering a job change. 88% said that child care supports offered by their employer was important in their decision to return to work after the birth or adoption of a child.

The Tangible Value of Employer Child Care Support

We hear all the time how valuable an onsite child care program is to employees. As someone who's worked in the field of early care and education for years, I know it's easy to sometimes take the benefits offered by your employer for granted.

I think about this all the time when I'm meeting with our clients. I ask what their goals and initiatives are for the upcoming year. Sometimes it's to get on "The List." Other times, it's to be the #1 company in the industry that everyone wants to work for.

Inevitably, the services Bright Horizons provides tie into those greater organizational goals. In fact, in that 2013 study, 93% of respondents said that access to employer-sponsored child care makes their employer an employer of choice.  This translates into a wonderful recruitment and retention tool. And in order to further demonstrate the impact of child care supports, I oftentimes find myself sharing my own story.

My children are now 22, 20 and 15. All three are graduates of Bright Horizons Children's Centers. I've stayed with Bright Horizons for so long because of this experience. I started when my daughter was 3 months old - that was 20 years ago. Amazing.