For anyone who thinks having child care at work would be a tempting distraction, Katie Tate, chief program officer for the YWCA Lower Cape Fear, disagrees. “I usually try not to interrupt her school day,” Tate says of her daughter. “However, if they’re having a class party or it’s her birthday, of course I’ll be there and it’s easy.”
The onsite child care offered by the YWCA is a huge benefit in and of itself. Tate has been with the organization for 9 years and has had two children during that time. “We are very fortunate to work for an organization that provides child care. Having my children go to the same place that I go every day is one less thing I have to worry about; it is one less stop in the morning and one less stop in the evening. Knowing that they’re in the building with me is comforting.”
But what really makes the difference is that for the 75 employees of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear, the cost of child care is subsidized. For a working parent with two children in child care, this can amount to more than $7,000 in savings annually.
The YWCA advances their mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all through a remarkable array of programs, outreach, and events. For families in the community, the YWCA can be a life saver—a go-to for affordable, quality child care from infancy through adolescence—offering full day care, half day, afterschool, and summer care—and parenting support for teens through grandparents.
The decision to subsidize their child care programs came about after Charrise Hart, chief executive officer, read the Status of Women in North Carolina report from the NC Department of Administration’s Council for Women & Youth. The report emphasized that what women really need to excel is pay equity.
“In the nonprofit sector, you may not be compensated as highly when compared to the corporate sector,” says Hart. “So, we asked ourselves, ‘How are we implementing our mission?’ With our mission to empower women, it starts with us. It starts right here at home.”
The YWCA decided to develop a policy that encourages employees to take advantage of the programming they have in place for the community. Full-time employees receive a 50 percent discount off of youth programs and child care services, and part-time employees receive a 20 percent discount. Today, almost 40 percent of employees take advantage of this benefit.
“We want to make work-life balance easier for our employees,” says Hart. “You could have a three-year-old at the early learning program and a seven-year-old that’s picked up from school and transported to the YWCA for after-school care. You can take your children home at the end of the day at an affordable price. Nothing can beat what we offer, and I’m proud of that.”
Pamella Spencer, program coordinator, has three children, two of whom are involved with the YWCA’s child care programs. Her 5-year-old daughter attends and her older son, who attended when he was younger, chose to return to the YWCA to fulfill his volunteer requirements as a freshman at Isaac Bear Early College. For Spencer, the program is ideal: payment for child care comes out of her paycheck as a deduction each month, and her daughter is cared for by her coworkers.
“The YWCA is a women’s organization and the majority of our staff are women,” says Spencer. “We have a strong network of support here. I’m glad that my children are surrounded by all of these strong women. We love the YWCA. That’s why we’re here.”
Tate and Spencer both agree that they have much stronger relationships with their colleagues as a result of having their children in child care at their workplace. They also understand that having child care on-site is not feasible for all employers. However, what they do suggest is that employers could partner with a child care provider and offer subsidies for tuition, registration or activity fees.
“Child care is the biggest expense for families,” says Tate. “There are always ways employers can help out if they can be creative.”
Sample Benefits: YWCA Lower Cape Fear
- The YWCA has the oldest retirement plan for women in the United States. Full-time and part-time employees are eligible.
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- PTO, including sick and vacation
- On-site child care available
- Child care and aquatics discount for full-time and part-time employees