Family First Allows Employers to Offer Employees Customized Child Care Benefits

Family First Allows Employers to Offer Employees Customized Child Care Benefits

This article was featured in Providence Business News. For the full article, visit the link below.

A working father of five – with children ranging from 4 months to 13 years – Chris Whitten knows the importance of quality child care.

For more than a decade, he has relied on Cumberland-based The Children’s Workshop to look after his brood while pursuing a career as broker and owner of 6-year-old, Johnston-based Premeer Real Estate Inc. At its 19 locations across Rhode Island and Massachusetts, The Children’s Workshop offers child care to youth aged 6 weeks to 12 years.

Their care is “incredible,” said Whitten, who especially appreciates text updates from teachers – one of which showed his 2-year-old building a snowman.

Over time, as the two companies grew, they participated in the same local charity events and, Whitten said, formed a close professional relationship.

This bond was strengthened earlier in 2018 when The Children’s Workshop announced a formal marketing campaign for its Family First program, for which Premeer Real Estate was the first corporation to sign on.

In early May, Woonsocket-based Summer Infant Inc. also signed on to Family First.

The program offers businesses the ability to craft customized child care benefits based on The Children’s Workshop services for their employees, including discounted services, parenting classes and summer programming.

Partnering with local corporations to provide child care services, the essence of Family First, has been a part of The Children’s Workshop business model since the company’s inception in 1990, said CEO Margaret Teller. However, it has remained a less-formal offering because administrators have relied on current parents to make inroads with their employers rather than marketing the idea.

“We weren’t actively out there … [appealing] to decision-makers without the parent introduction, which is what we’re trying to do now,” said Teller, who credited much of the recent attention garnered by Family First to the rising cost of child care.

After 10 years in the industry, four as CEO, Teller estimates child care costs average $20,000 per family, per year. She believes “it’s hard for families to shoulder that burden alone” and that “businesses have a responsibility to help their employees.”

Quality child care, to Teller, is a fundamental benefit companies’ human resources departments should consider offering employees because it improves productivity. Herself a mother of two – girls aged 18 months and 5 years – Teller knows “nothing will distract you more than thinking about your child.”

Work absences are often the result of sick children or the primary child care service falling through, said Teller, “[and] that gets in the way of the growth of the company.”

As both a CEO and a mother, Teller is not concerned about a loss of revenue, given the possibility of discounted services. Currently, one week of full-time care at The Children’s Workshop costs roughly $300 – tuition rates vary at each location – and can add up to $15,000 to $20,000 per family annually, said Teller.

“Offering a discount,” said Teller, “is hard because margins are very slim,” but she hopes increased enrollment will offset any loss.

Each Family First corporate partnership is different, with discounts ranging from 3-10 percent. Teller said they are often “more generous” if the employer provides a match or reimbursement.

To continue reading the full article on PBN, click here.

 

 

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