- UPS will expand an ‘emergency child care initiative’ for U.S.-based front-line workers, the company announced Tuesday. The program, a partnership with Patch Caregiving, was piloted from August 2022 through January at a Northern California site.
- According to UPS, 80% of eligible employees participated in the emergency day care program, which helped the company avoid more than 120 unplanned absences. UPS also reported a significant reduction in employee turnover in the pilot group — from 31% to 4%.
- UPS will expand the program to additional shifts at the California pilot site and some Pennsylvania facilities this quarter. It will add additional facilities in 2024.
Child care challenges — due to both lack of access and cost — have long been identified as a leading factor driving women from the workforce. The pandemic worsened this reality, with nearly half of employers who lost workers during the pandemic attributing it to child care concerns, according to a November 2020 report.
More recently, child care has been top of mind for many employers as funds associated with the American Rescue Plan Act, COVID-19 relief legislation that allocated $39 billion to child care providers, ran out Sept. 30. One estimate suggested that as many as 70,000 day care programs could close as a result, leaving more than 3 million children without access to child care.
Employers have experimented with a variety of ways to ease the burden on working parents, especially those with young children. Some companies, like Virginia-based clothing company Latched Mama, allow parents to bring their babies into the office. Some have introduced an annual child care stipend or pre-tax flexible spending option for day care.
Employer-sponsored, on-site day care — perhaps the most helpful of options — is also one of the most difficult for employers to pull off, due to regulatory requirements and insurance costs. Colorado is one state that has worked to break down these barriers, appropriating more than $8 million to an employer-based child care facility grant program in 2021. Steamboat Ski Resort is among the companies to use the fund.
Patagonia has provided on-site day care for 40 years, according to its website, and may serve as a leading example for employers interested in exploring the option.