Offering this benefit is child's play Featured

10:04am EDT July 22, 2002
When employees miss work because their children's day-care providers are unavailable, the interruption can be both frustrating and costly.

St. Ann's Hospital has found a solution to that problem: the YMCA's Educare program. Through Educare, companies can sponsor-at virtually no risk or cost-an on-site or off-site day care for children at least 6-weeks- old but not yet school age. The YMCA assumes responsibility for the staffing, operation, licensing and liability of each center. Employees pick up the cost, which is roughly $100 to $135 a week for each child enrolled.

Employers can qualify for tax breaks by offering the program, and can help reduce the cost to employees by providing food and equipment for the center, such as books and toys.

Patricia Ritchey, director of the Educare program at St. Ann's, says parents cite the ability to be close to their children as the biggest benefit of the program. That, she adds, helps attract and maintain good workers.

"We let them know they are welcome to visit the center at any time, and this keeps them happy in their job," she says.

Educare operates corporate day-care programs at St. Ann's and Columbus City Schools' North Education Center. Another center in the Hilltop area is expected to open in November.