For many working parents the struggle to balance family and a career is complicated. Parents struggle to find high-quality, affordable child care, which keeps some parents who would like to work or continue to work, from doing so.
Other challenges working parents face are work environments that do not have policies that support working parents such as maternity/paternity leave, health insurance, sick leave, and other supports.
According to Leslie Ellis, president of Credit Union 1, working parents shouldn’t have to sacrifice family for their careers.That is why Little 1’s Learning Center exists. Credit Union 1’s on-site child care, managed by Providence Alaska Medical Center, offers full and part-time child care, preschool, and before and after school care for Credit Union 1 employees.
The Center holds a maximum of 33 children and there is almost always a waiting list. A diverse curriculum, tailored to meet the needs of each age level, is drawn from widely accepted research and theories of child development and learning. Caregivers are paid a higher salary than traditionally paid to child care providers, and they are offered a benefit package, thus retaining quality staff. Without the Center, this high-quality care may otherwise be out of reach for some parents.
“This gets a level of stress off the parents,” said Ellis, “They know that their kids are in a quality child care program.”
Credit Union 1 does not limit child care assistance to its Anchorage employees. In remote areas like Nome, Ketchikan and Fairbanks where there are not enough children to operate a center, the company offers financial assistance to working parents.
“In our remote areas we don’t have enough children to fill our own center, so we pay our employees a differential to put toward their child care,” said Ellis. “We’re providing them with funding so they can get better child care than they could have afforded on their own.”
This family friendly attitude has not gone without recognition. Credit Union 1 was one of seven businesses recognized with the 2008 Work/Family Award given by Anchorage’s Success By 6 Initiative. The award honors local businesses that help their employees balance work and family by creating a family friendly workplace.
Ellis and the Little 1’s Learning Center have even attracted statewide attention. Ellis has traveled and spoken several times with other interested institutions. Organizations in Fairbanks are considering using the Little 1’s Learning Center as a model for operating a local child care program, with contributions from Credit Union 1.
Studies show that organizations and companies with family friendly policies and programs such as flexible scheduling, quality insurance, paid leave and/or child care assistance have increased employee retention, and employee satisfaction and efficiency. Having these policies and programs in place is a benefit to all.