Smaller businesses lead the way in increasing child care offerings

Smaller businesses lead the way in increasing child care offerings

“Micro” businesses are leading the way in providing childcare in the country, according to a new study from Fort Worth-based Best Place for Working Parents.

The number of general businesses offering this option is also increasing.

“With micro businesses, which we define as having 1 to 24 employees, they are second only to large businesses in providing childcare in the country, which is really cool to think about,” said Sadie Funk, director national public-private partnership.

This mirrors an earlier study by the organization in November that showed small businesses that offer benefits such as health coverage, parental leave and flexible work options report improvements in employee productivity, motivation, satisfaction and health.

Data from recent research, based on data from more than 2,000 companies in 10 states across the U.S., shows that companies are making the connection between providing child care options and maintaining a stable workforce, Funk said.

“Not only child care in the country, we saw increases in child care assistance and backup child care,” she said. “I think it really tells this larger story that employers really understand the connections between access to child care and an employee base that is able to show up in a meaningful way at work.”

Around 13% of businesses responding to the survey had a childcare policy in place in 2023, up 47% from 2019.

Currently, 16% of large businesses employing 1,000 or more workers offer on-site childcare, according to the study. But “micro businesses” with one to 24 workers were the second most likely. This was followed by 10% of small businesses employing 25 to 200 workers and 8% of medium-sized businesses with 201 to 999 employees. The top two sectors where businesses are most likely to provide in-house care services were education, as well as agriculture, forestry and wildlife.

The report examines 10 evidence-based benefits and policies implemented by businesses with family-friendly work environments and highlights the competitive advantage these benefits provide in attracting and retaining employees. In its second year, the report presents industry insights to help business leaders understand which family-friendly policies have become standard practice and which can help businesses stand out in their industry.

Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center Fort Worth has added a number of offerings intended to be more family-friendly, officials said. Along with options like parental leave and family leave, in the past 18 months, the organization began offering more educational benefits, said Charles Williams, president of the medical center, which has more than 400 employees.

“We realized that we have to make sure that our people are bringing everything they have to the job, that they’re bringing their passion and their skills so they can deliver that care every day,” he said. “So we want to make sure that, not only at work, but at home and in their communities, they’re doing well.”

Funk said companies that understand how important providing childcare or being open to making work-life adjustments can be effective tools to retain employees.

“Even options like flexible working hours or working from home on some days can help retain employees,” she said. “We know that 73% of credentialed women who have left the workforce would have stayed if only with more access to flexibility.”

Businesses that provide on-site child care for employees experience a 7.4 times higher employee retention rate, Funk said.

Baylor Scott & White’s Williams said it also began focusing on mental health benefits for employees.

“There’s really no sector of our population that’s exempt from this — behavioral health, stress, mental health — we all have it in our lives,” he said. “We try to make sure we offer behavioral health support, free counseling visits when life is challenging.”

Baylor Scott & White also offers access to mindfulness tools like meditation.

“These can be great tools for our employees in their lives and work,” he said.

Key findings from the report:

  • Child care in the country is growing: While still relatively rare, child care take-up rates in the country are growing faster than any other benefit – up 47% since 2019.
  • Despite a push back into the office, flexible work arrangements are here to stay: Among businesses designated as the Best Place for Working Parents, 96% offer the option of flexible working hours. Along with flexible hours, 93% of certain businesses offer remote work.
  • Parental leave and childcare support are differentiators in a competitive talent market: Across the best country for working parents, key industries, backup childcare, childcare assistance and parental leave policies are benefits that help companies stand out in today’s job market.

Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at [email protected]. At The Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently by our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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