Child Care: Not Only the Employee Benefits

By Smith, Katherine | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, November 1989 | Go to article overview

Child Care: Not Only the Employee Benefits


Smith, Katherine, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


Child care: Not only the employee benefits

You are in the midst of launching a new magazine and have been fortunate to recruit a creative up-and-comer to take on the role of editor. He is bright, fast on his feet, a quick thinker with lots of energy and enthusiasm, and has demonstrated management strengths prior jobs. The staff includes a number of beginners who, with the right amount of guidance and direction, will become a strong, cohesive team.

An important launch meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday at 2:00 PM. The meeting commences and is running smoothly until it is interrupted by an ungent phone call for the editor. His child has a temperature and must be picked up from the day-care center. His spouse, who also holds a challenging management position, is away on a business trip for the week.

The editor must make a decision, and quickly. He opts to reschedule the meeting and quickly leaves to pick up his child. The child remains sick for two days. You editor is out and the launch develops snags because of his absence. His calls in and does as much as possible from home, but he can't leave his son because he has no one to take care of a "sick child" in his wife's absence.

You have these kinds of scenarios happening more frequently than you realize because parents--both mothers and fathers--are taking a more active and equal role in the rearing of their offspring. The proliferation of single parents creates the additional burden of your employees not having partners to rely on to take over in a crisis situation.

Lost time from work because of day-care and family-related emergencies is the single largest culprit in today's corporate world. Your $50,000-a-year editor who loses an average of eight days per year from work costs you over $1,800 in lost time. Multiply this by the number of people you have working for you with preschool children or children in after-school care, and the numbers are staggering.

Statistical research has shown that one out of three sick days taken by a working parent is actually due to child-related illnesses that prevent the child from attending school or being taken care of by a day-care provider. In addition, an average of eight sick days related to child-care problems are taken each year by either the mother or the father. In many situations, these days result from the day-care provider or in-home babysitter being ill and unable to take care of the child. Most parents complain that these schedules create a needless amount of stress and worry, because "I never know where my children are going to from one week to the next, and they don't know, either." School cancellations and school delays also create difficult situations.

The day-care delimma is nationwide and affects every industry. Unfortunately, most publishing companies are hesitant to respond to the needs for their employees. Very few publishing companies contacted for this article provided any significant assistance to their employees faced with day-care problems, and few appear interested in doing so. Many believe it is a "woman's issue" and that care of the children is a mother's problem.

Breaking ground

Most publishing company human resource executives acknowledge that day care is a pressing need, but few see it as their company's problem. Of those that do provide assistance, most merely provide advice and referrals.

However, there is one publishing company that has taken a pro-active approach and found effective solutions. CMP Publications, an 812-employee company based in Manhasset, Long Island, is in the forefront in providing onsite day-care assistance. Their program began with a pilot for two infants in 1987. Lilo Leeds, co-chairperson for CMP, believes that providing day-care assistance is the "right thing to do"--for employees, for children and for the company. In January 1989, CMP became licensed for an on-site, full-time infant program, which is now at full enrollment with 12 babies ranging in age from two months to two years nine months.

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