Caregiving
 
 

Supporting Employee Caregiving Responsibilities 

More than 26% of full-time employees in Austin have children under age 5, and almost 70% have one or more children under age 18. Practices that support caregivers in meeting the needs of their family members will enable them to stay in the workforce and to be their most productive while at work.  

 

CHILD CARE

All parents want high-quality, reliable care for their children but juggling a job, childcare and family responsibilities can be a struggle. Employers can support employees through this process by offering an array of benefits and resources. Benefit offerings can range from resource-intensive strategies such as on-site childcare, to less resource intensive ones such as information and referral services.

Do you know how access to childcare is affecting caregivers?

  • Currently, 64% of children in Austin live in households where all parents/caregivers are working. Access to quality child care increases a parent/caregiver’s likelihood of completing postsecondary education, raises labor force participation rates, increases productivity, and helps businesses attract and retain talent.

  • Federal Reserve reports that nationally, child care and other family obligations are the dominant reasons for why people are not working, other than retirement. One-eighth of those not working and one-fourth of those working part time cite these reasons.

  • Child care is also a significant expense for Austin families. The costs of trained personnel, safe facilities, and well-balanced meals account for the high cost of providing care. Unlike the K-12 system, in which the costs of a child’s education are covered by public funding, working parents assume the cost of child care. Thus, a significant portion of a family’s income is spent on child care. Average yearly tuition for infant care (younger than 12 months) in Austin is $9,474, which equals 10% percent of the median family income. This share climbs to 31 percent in single-parent households and would account for 63% for a single parent making minimum wage. This is well out of reach for many families.

  • It can be difficult to find an opening at a center or child care home, particularly for an infant. Travis County has experienced the largest growth in child population in the region, while Williamson County has experienced the fastest growth. This population growth has consistently surpassed the available capacity of child care facilities and far surpasses the capacity of high-quality facilities.

  • Only about half of all child care facilities are licensed, and only 6% of all child care facilities are accredited for quality. The City of Austin Office of Performance Management reports that more than 50% of respondents on the 2017 Citizen Survey indicated that they were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with access to affordable high-quality care.

  • Having access to regular child care means fewer missed days of work and reduced job turnover.

  • Consistent child care also saves employers money. Almost half of parents are absent from work at least once due to child care issues, missing an average of 4.3 days over a six month period. It is estimated that child care breakdowns leading to employee absences cost U.S. businesses $3 billion annually.

The resource section of this toolkit offers detailed information related to eligibility and process for accessing child care subsidies, Head Start, and Pre-K programs, as well as information to help guide parents to identify high-quality care providers in the community. 


ON-SITE CHILD CARE

What it is

Childcare provided at the place of work for parents.

benefits of implementing this

A survey by the Early Care & Learning Council reports that when companies provide childcare, employee absences decrease by up to 30% and job turnover declines by as much as 60%.

Tips and Tools

  • Though it can be a costly benefit, the cost can be recouped every year through retention

  • KinderCare Education at Work and Bright Horizons both offer corporate benefits partnerships including on-site child care models that are committed to high quality nationally accredited programs.

  • United Way Success By 6 is a local resource for information about local non-profit high quality child care providers with potential interest in on-site partnerships.

Austin Diagnostic Clinic has provided on-site high quality child care at its North Austin location for more than 20 years. High property costs and leases in Greater Austin are an obstacle for many child care programs, so ADC has partnered with KinderCare to provide a very generous lease agreement that makes providing high quality, affordable and accessible care for employees more feasible. By considering potential partnerships with facilities, employers can create a feasible child care situation for employees.  


CHILD CARE VOUCHERS, DISCOUNTS OR REFERRALS

What it is

A method for employers to provide easily accessible resources for publicly funded programs.

Benefits of implementing this

Engaging in a corporate partnership with a high-quality child care provider to provide a tuition discount and/or priority enrollment for their staff may be the most cost effective solution for businesses wanting to support parents. 

Tips and Tools

  • Services can be provided through a corporate benefits partnership with high-quality child care centers.

  • These are available through KinderCare and Bright Horizons who have established corporate models

  • Early Matters Greater Austin can help connect businesses with Austin area child care programs that would be interested in partnerships.

  • Concierge services such as HappyFamili offer consultation services for businesses to add to employee benefits packages. These can include services to assist caregivers with accessing child care, after school and summer camp programs.

  • OR companies may offer a child care vouchers/subsidies for parents

  • OR companies may invest in a childcare assistance fund for employees

  • Arming HR or other staff with information to assist parents with referrals to reliable resources can help reduce stress and reduce time lost away from work. Please refer to the Resource Guide in this Toolkit.


CHILD CARE BENEFIT PLANS AND TAX STRATEGIES

What it is

Using tax-advantaged strategies to help employers support working parents and affordable childcare.

benefits of implementing this

With childcare, investing wisely on the front-end reduces the costs of remediation down-the-road.

Tips and Tools

“Cafeteria Plans” offer a menu of benefits tailored to meet the needs of employees while reducing income tax withholding, FICA, and unemployment taxes. 

Employees can set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax income for child care expenses.

“Dependent Care Assistance Programs” allow employers to fund a portion of an employee’s child care expenses. 

Employers can contribute towards an employee’s child care expenses (up to $5,000).


BACKUP OR EMERGENCY CARE

What it is

The availability of short-term support for employees when regular child care falls through, such as when providers are sick or during unexpected school closings.

benefits of implementing this

This offering allows employees to continue their regular work schedules when something unexpected comes up.

Tips and Tools

Employers can provide in-home or center-based care for children who are mildly ill or recovering from health problems that keep them from attending school or child care. 

Backup care can be provided on-site or through relationships with third party providers like KinderCare, Bright Horizons or Care.com. 

Unfortunately, the Austin area currently offers very limited opportunities for backup, emergency, or nontraditional hour care. This is an opportunity for businesses to serve as leaders in developing these opportunities.


ELDER CARE

What it is

While these policies and practice focus on young children, many employees are part of the “sandwich generation'“ facing caregiving responsibilities for aging family members. Many of the same benefits and practices may be considered for employees caring for a family member of any age.

 

 

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