Roundtable on child care
There are ways businesses can help make child care more affordable for their employees, as those who attended the April 30th Child Care Roundtable in Bakersfield discovered. The gathering held at Hodel’s Country Dining and sponsored by Community Connection for Child (CCCC), the Packard Foundation and First Five Kern brought together almost 100 community business leaders, child care providers and parents.
As event organizer Dana Adams from Local Investment in Child Care (LINCC) put it, “The event was targeted to employers and child care providers to focus on the economic impact of child care in Kern County and how child care can be made more affordable for working families who are not eligible for subsidized care.”
Several business leaders described how changing approaches to help employees with children had made for a more productive and congenial workplace.
“Last year we had one unemployment claim,” said Beckie Diltz, Mervyn’s store team leader. “We think one reason is that we allow our employees to be off when their children are sick. We have found they will be better employees when they come back.”
Nancy Chaffin, who is human resources director at The Bakersfield Californian, spoke of helping employees by subsidizing the cost of child care.
“As a benefit for our employees, we have subsidized spots for their children in the Downtown Child Development Center,” Chaffin said. “We have discovered there is less turnover, less absenteeism, and we have happier employees. Does it make good business sense? Yes.”
One employer, Kern Dermatology, has taken it a step further by building its own preschool center for employees’ children right next door, according to Caroline Clausen, who is the preschool’s ( Toddler Tech) director.
“Toddler Tech came about out of necessity,” Clausen said. “Kern Dermatology was having trouble with child care issues. So, Dr. Michael MacDuff purchased the property next door. Community Connection for Child Care helped with the licensing, and we opened our doors as a preschool to 20 children. It has grown to where Toddler Tech now has a toddler and infant center open to the general public. It has reduced fees for employees. Since it is right next door, Kern Dermatology has seen increases in recruitment, retention, high morale and job satisfaction.”
Emcee for the roundtable, CCCC Interim Director Joel Heinrichs, moderated a lively discussion between participants, who after hearing what businesses had to offer were eager to find out more information.
Other speakers included Child Development and Family Services Interim Administrator Pam Sanders, Adams and Kathe Sickles from LINCC, Mercy Housing Consultant David Wilkinson and CCCC Program Manager Lisa Duncan-Purcell.