Friday, May 11, 2001

Coalition developing plans to expand backup child care

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Every time schools announce a snow day or the latest bug going around keeps toddlers home from day care, Greater Cincinnati employers lose a day of productivity from many of their working parents.

        The problem has been around as long as dual-income families, and it costs Tristate employers tens of millions of dollars a year. But now, a coalition of large employers and child care agencies has formed to try to do something about it.

   • American Nursing Care, (513) 731-4600 or (859) 283-1500.
   • Child Care Professionals Inc., (513) 561-4810.
   • Nanny Placement Services, (513) 661-4245
   • 4C's Connections to Care (available only to workers of participating employers), (513) 221-0043.
   Source: Greater Cincinnati Business Partners for Worklife Initiatives
        On Thursday, representatives of more than 30 local companies gathered at the Drake Center in Hartwell to hear about plans to increase the amount of backup day care and sick-child services in the Tristate. The event was organized by the Greater Cincinnati Business Partners for Worklife Initiatives, a new organization.

        “This has been a problem for a long time but it is more difficult now,” said Joyce Keeshin, an associate director of global diversity for Procter & Gamble and a coalition participant. “There are so many dual-career families. There is so much travel. And so many working parents lack having other family members in town to rely upon.”

        Nationwide, absenteeism from working parents costs employers about $3 billion a year in lost productivity, according to William Bowman, president of Boston-based ChildrenFirst Inc.

        That's because both parents work in about 45 percent of American families. Of those, 80 percent miss at least some work every year to deal with child care complications, Mr. Bowman said.

        In Cincinnati, local employers lose at least $37 million a year to child care complications, according to 4C, an agency that helps connect employers and parents to child care services.

        However, there are fewer back-up or sick-child care services in Greater Cincinnati now than just a few years ago, said Sallie Westheimer, executive director of 4C.

        Those that are available can be expensive. For example, hiring a nanny or nurse to watch a sick child at home can cost up to $25 per hour, plus registration or subscription fees.

        On Thursday, the worklife coalition heard from three local agencies that offer special child care services and two out-of-town back-up child care companies considering expanding into Cincinnati: ChildrenFirst and Bright Horizons Family Solutions, with headquarters in Boston and Nashville, Tenn., respectively.

        For information about backup child care and sick-child care, call 4C at 221-0043.

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