Do you remember your security blanket? Maybe you can still picture it vividly. If you had one as a child, it provided …
For working parents across the country, finding childcare is tough. It can be challenging in cities and suburbs, despite the population density. In rural areas, it’s even more daunting.
Along with the diverse topography, expanded acreage, and pastoral landscapes often associated with rural communities, there are fewer caregiving options nearby and greater distances to travel.
Do you have employees in rural areas? Are you thinking of adding childcare benefits? You’ll want to find an employee childcare benefits program with flexible schedules, multiple caregiver options, and affordable costs.
Let’s talk about the best ways to provide employer-sponsored childcare benefits to a rural and geographically dispersed workforce.
Schedule a call with Upwards to take stock of all your childcare benefits possibilities.
Childcare options for rural working families are scarce
Many parenting challenges are universal, like sleep training or potty training. However, rural working parents face some unique obstacles that their urban and suburban counterparts don’t typically have to contend with.
While finding a caregiver just about anywhere can be difficult, childcare access in rural areas is even more limited. If you’re an employer looking to implement an employee childcare benefits program for a rural workforce, here are some factors to consider:
- Where do your employees live in relation to available childcare locations? Assessing where your working families reside and where childcare facilities currently exist is the first step to optimizing employer-sponsored childcare benefits at your organization. Is your workforce mostly based in one rural area or dispersed geographically across many towns and counties in the region? The answer to this question will help inform what type of caregivers you should look for in an employee childcare benefits program.
- What type of childcare schedules are actually needed? In many rural communities, it’s not uncommon for parents to put together patchwork childcare solutions. These stopgaps may include working unconventional work hours and overlapping schedules rather than a traditional, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. shift. Any childcare benefits for employees would need to cater to these unconventional schedules accordingly.
- How easily can you set up programs and find enough childcare spots? Similar to determining where childcare options are in relation to your employees, it’s very important to gain an understanding of how many childcare spots are available for local working families. Is it going to be fairly straightforward to set up an employee childcare benefits program at one large center or will you need multiple childcare locations to meet the demand and service your workforce?
- Do your employees work in-person, remotely, or a hybrid model of some form? The answer to this question is a fundamental piece of the childcare benefits puzzle. If all of your employees work in-person, on the same schedule, and there are enough childcare spots open nearby, that could simplify the childcare benefits offerings needed. If, however, you have a workforce that is remote, hybrid, or in-person but on varied schedules, you’ll need to go with an employee childcare benefits program that offers more flexible options like in-home family daycares, and traveling caregivers.
What are 5 ways companies are benefiting by providing employee childcare benefits?
Working parents in rural areas need your support. It feels good to help people, yet that’s not the only reason to implement employer-sponsored childcare benefits.
The business advantages of offering childcare solutions are extensive. Employers providing employee childcare benefits can expect the decision to pay organizational dividends in numerous ways, including:
- Improving productivity — working parents lose 5% of their workweek to childcare distractions. Offering employer-sponsored childcare benefits can solve this issue and make your workforce more productive.
- Attracting and retaining talent — 77% of working parents view family-friendliness and childcare benefits as their top priority when searching for employers. The better your benefit offerings, the easier it is to retain current talent and hire new employees.
- Encouraging engagement — absenteeism is the biggest concern on employers’ mindsand a big reason why more organizations are opting to add an employee childcare benefits program.
- Increasing job satisfaction — factors like salary, role, and benefits impact employee job fulfillment. Employers offering the benefits employees care about the most find that workers are able to more fully commit to their roles and remain with the organization longer, as they feel supported.
- Boosting the bottom line — there is a clear business argument for adding care benefits, including the robust ROI of employer-sponsored childcare benefits.
What are the three basic benefits of childcare?
Because childcare is so essential, it’s hard to narrow down its many merits. Quality childcare and early childhood education are an important foundation for every child.
That said, three of the main benefits of childcare are:
- A safe, healthy environment
- Language and cognitive development
- Thoughtful and sensitive caregiving
Childcare is a basic need for every family. Unfortunately, it is not accessible for each working parent who needs to find care. Employee childcare benefits improve childcare access and outcomes for working families. However, here too the situation is challenging, as not enough employers are offering them.
- What percentage of U.S. workers have childcare benefits available to them from employers? Quite tellingly, the numbers are shockingly low. According to a 2019 study from the Society for Human Resource Management, only 4% of U.S. employers offer subsidized childcare programs while 11% offer childcare referral services.
That is simply not going to get the job done. Numbers that low won’t support the millions of working families throughout the nation that are in dire need of childcare
Upwards’ wide childcare network includes rural areas
Finding the right childcare benefits partner is going to be key in order to best serve your rural workforce.
Upwards’ employee childcare benefits programs include childcare assistance to help families find and access quality, affordable childcare, full and partial stipends which help offset employees’ childcare costs, and backup care to support working families when the unexpected arises and childcare plans change at the last minute.
Employee childcare benefits can (and should!) be made available to working families, no matter where they are located in the U.S. For example, Upwards’ childcare network extends to the following rural locations — among many, many others:
Berkleigh, AL; Cave Springs, AR; Hot Springs, AR; Prescott, AZ; Palm Springs, CA; Timnath, CO; Middletown, CT; Newark, DE; New Castle, DE; Naples, FL; Winter Park, FL; Georgetown, GA; Cedar Falls, IA; Moss, ID; Forsyth, IL; Mishawaka, IN; Emporia, KS; Manhattan, KS; Paducah, KY; Alexandria, LA; Salem, MA; Annapolis, MD; Cumberland, MD; Westbrook, ME; Marquette, MI; Saginaw, MI; Traverse City, MI; Kasson, MN; Park Rapids, MN; Kirkwood, MO; Oxford, MS; Bozeman, MT; Chadron, NE; Millbrook, NC; Dover, NH; Bound Brook, NJ; Phillipsburg, NJ; Seton Village, NM; Jamestown, NY; Saratoga Springs, NY; Sun Valley, NV; Lima, OH; Pendleton, OR; Beaver County, PA; Bristol, RI; Summerville, SC; Madison, SD; Winchester, TN; Iowa Colony, TX; Paris, TX; Prosper, TX; Vineyard, UT; Burlington, VT; Charlottesville, VA; Fredericksburg, VA; Stirling, WA; Granville, WV; Lewisburg, WV; Glenrock, WY
Leveraging Upwards’ childcare network for your organization means finding more local caregivers closer to where your rural working families live. Our in-home daycare providers and caregivers can accommodate more unconventional hours and work schedules, offering more flexibility with after-hours, weekend, and overnight care.
Whether you manage a remote, in-person, or hybrid workforce, Upwards is well-positioned to become your rural employee childcare benefits partner to support the hard-working parents in your organization. We will go the distance for you and your families.
The largest childcare network in the United States, providing access to quality, affordable childcare to families nationwide. We support childcare providers in operating sustainable businesses through a technology-based marketplace and partner with government entities to improve access to care. Upwards also helps employers of all sizes offer their employees childcare benefits. Our mission is to help all families care for their children — not just those who can afford it.