At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, employees don’t have to miss a day of work when their regular child care falls through. Blue Cross NC offers its employees access to a 4,000-square-foot back-up and emergency on-site child care facility.
All employees receive access to the five-star on-site facility, managed by Bright Horizons, for 30 days per child from infants to age 12 at a subsidized rate. An additional 15 days are available at full cost. Three care rooms—one for infants and toddlers, one for preschool children and one for school-aged children—offer daily activities and curriculum along with breakfast and lunch. Blue Cross NC subsidizes the rest of the costs to operate the facility on top of what employees pay.
“There are those times when schools close, the babysitter doesn’t show up or your childcare center closes,” says Chief People Officer Fara Palumbo. “The back-up center is a great way for parents to have a way to solve that emergency issue and still come to the office.”
In addition to emergency care, parents can use their back-up care days toward summer and track-out camps offered by the facility. Additionally, new parents have access to 30 extra days of full-time care at the on-site facility when they transition back to work after their paid parental leave.
Christy Colgan, who manages Blue Cross NC’s employee wellness program, says the transition back time, known as the TOT program, was invaluable with both of her two children.
She remembers feeling comforted by the fact that her oldest son, Connor, was close by during her first few weeks back at work. “Because he was just down the street, I knew that if I needed to go see him, I could go see him at any moment,” she says.
Palumbo says the back-up child care facility is consistently ranked among the most valued benefits by employees at Blue Cross NC— especially the TOT program. And the TOT program is a natural transition back to work after parental leave. Blue Cross NC offers 12 paid weeks of leave to new mothers and new fathers following a birth or adoption of a child.
“You’re home on leave. Now you have to make this transition back to work. And either you’re not ready with your child care center or you’re personally not ready to leave your child in the child care center that you’ve arranged,” Palumbo says. “With this program, you bring your child on site for four weeks and you have full time care. You can take breaks during the day if you need to, to go nurse your child, or just to visit your child.“
Another benefit to help new parents are the lactation rooms, or mothers’ rooms, located throughout the Blue Cross NC campus. In each room, employees have access to comfortable chairs, a locker to store equipment, a hospital grade breast pump, a mini fridge and a sink—everything they need to be comfortable during pumping breaks.
Colgan, who breastfed both her children for the first year of their lives, says the mothers’ rooms helped her reach her breastfeeding goal.
“I felt really fortunate that I had this really nice room that I could go to and take time to be away,” Colgan says.
“One of my friends is a geologist, she’s almost one of the only females at her office, and when she had her first child, she just had to (pump milk) in her cubicle, because there was really nowhere else to go.”
Overall, Palumbo says the mothers’ rooms, the paid leave for mothers and fathers, the backup child care center and other benefits for families, such as flexible work schedules or telecommuting options, help Blue Cross NC fulfill its company mission to improve the health and well-being of the company’s customers and communities.
But beyond the benefits, its the company culture of support for all employees—especially working parents—that makes Blue Cross NC a great place to work, Colgan says.
“It’s not an easy decision to be a working mom. A lot of my friends who have kids… a lot of them stay at home, because when they look at it, they’re like, ‘If I’m going to spend half my paycheck on child care, I’d rather be at home with my kids,’” she says.
“I felt like I had the support to come back to work, and that I could be my whole self at work. I feel comfortable that I’m able to provide a great life for my kids and still be really present with my family every day.”
Sample Benefits – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
- Twelve weeks of paid parental leave following a birth or adoption
- Back-up and emergency child care on site,along with access to emergency and sick care for dependents at an employee’s home
- Fully-stocked lactation rooms to support breastfeeding mothers.
- Telecommuting, flexible work schedules,part-time work options available
- Paid time off for illness, vacation (employees have a general paid time off policy that can be used for either)
- Health, dental, vision insurance; life insurance;flexible spending account; dependent care reimbursement account (with employer contribution of $500 per year)