Building a Child Care Center: The Weill Cornell Story

If you're a highly skilled researcher or scientist and thinking about an exciting job, raising a family, and working in New York City, Weill Cornell Medical College is the place to be.  The renowned medical college has recently announced that it is building a child care center to benefit its employees. The new child care facility will be located near its Manhattan campus and will provide high-quality child care for the growing number of healthcare professionals who work there.

The development marks nothing short of exquisite timing. Weill Cornell is poised for growth, with The Belfer Research Building scheduled for completion in 2014. The state-of-the-art medical research facility will target "some of the world's most daunting health challenges." It will also require top talent to staff it.

Building Buy-In, Doing Due Diligence

Lisa Abbott of Weill Cornell Medical College played a key role in making the child care center a reality. The Senior HR Director knows well the importance of child care to recruitment efforts - particularly when it comes to bringing women to the science and medical fields. Successfully recruiting for the Belfer Research Building was a top leadership priority and achieving that goal would require a directed effort.  Starting in 2010, they'd already secured dependent care through the Bright Horizons back-up care program for children and elder care needs; an on-site center was the logical next step. To ensure buy-in, she told leadership, "If you want to attract these people to New York City, having workplace child care is what we need to do."

In addition to pulling together internal experts well versed in capital planning, environmental health, housing, and risk management, Lisa also tapped into her peers in upstate New York.  Cornell's Ithaca campus already had an onsite Bright Horizons child care center  that is considered crucial to their operations.  "It was enormously comforting to speak with my colleagues in Ithaca about investing in workplace child care and the lessons learned from their experience," she says.

Building a Child Care Center: Location, Location, Location

Of course, a workplace daycare center is just a dream without real estate. And as everywhere, in New York, it was all about location, location, location.  "I had asked around internally and was told we do not have any space (to give to child care)," she told me. She had about given up when the Bright Horizons real estate development team identified some ideal space on the east side.

Opening of the center isn't scheduled until September 2013, but Lisa says the College is already seeing the perks. "I'm hearing direct evidence of people's excitement," she says. "I've already had people inquire about how to get in."

To get ready, there's much to be done. There are many operational decisions that go into the build out and opening of a new center - including licensing and codes but Lisa says she knows Bright Horizons puts the project in good hands. Overall, she calls the successful march to the finish line a team effort.

"It really takes a village," she says. "I could not have done it without the many partners who helped reduce the barriers."

Written by: Andrea Wicks Bowles

About the Author

Andrea Wicks Bowles at Bright Horizons

As Senior Consultant, Director Global Initiatives, Horizons Workforce Consulting, Andrea works with Bright Horizons clients to enhance the effectiveness of their employees and strengthen their position as an employer of choice. Her knowledge of global child care policies, organizational effectiveness, and work/life industry trends combined with analytical skills is used to help clients uncover their unique issues and challenges. Andrea, a frequent speaker at work/life conferences, is a key contributor to Bright Horizons' research investigations.