The Pros and Cons of On-Site Childcare Centers — Employee Childcare Benefits 101

When thinking about employer-provided childcare benefits, people often picture an on-site childcare center and everything that entails. While a childcare center based at your headquarters location is certainly one way to go, it is far from the only option in terms of employer-sponsored childcare. In reality, these centers tend to fall short in accommodating the needs of employees.

Let’s discuss on-site childcare centers and weigh the pros and cons of choosing this route to address the childcare challenges your workforce is facing.

Are childcare benefits costly for employers?

Not surprisingly, on-site childcare centers are typically found in or adjacent to the office building where employees work. The thought behind this is that working parents will have convenient childcare directly at their workplace, however, there are a number of obstacles for employers thinking of implementing this.

The main hurdle to such an endeavor is the cost, as on-site childcare centers can get very expensive. Organizations need to:

  • build or rent out a large enough space
  • furnish the center properly
  • hire and maintain qualified childcare staff
  • provide sufficient toys and activities for all the children who will be attending the center

All of that translates into a large initial investment, with ongoing maintenance costs for as long as you run the facility.

Childcare liability, capacity, and flexibility concerns

Another issue that may give you pause about setting up a center is simply providing on-site childcare can be a huge liability for employers. What happens if a child suffers an injury, right there at your childcare facility? This is an unfortunate but very real scenario that represents a preventable legal crisis for your organization.

Capacity at any childcare facility can be a challenge, however, capacity issues at your proposed on-site center would be even more acute because that is where your employees are expected to go.

A capacity shortage can be a significant problem for HR to juggle when parents have been on a waitlist for months, leaving their families in a state of limbo. This is especially troublesome if an employee’s ability to start is dependent on them finding childcare.

One result of choosing a single on-site childcare center is that it means there is only one curriculum or teaching method. This can be problematic because it isn’t flexible and doesn’t always fit the preferences of all of your unique working families and what they might be looking for in a childcare environment for their kids.

Do on-site childcare centers really work for employees?

So if these large, on-site centers are a serious hassle for you as the employer, what about the experience for your employees? Well, as it turns out, these facilities don’t exactly service them all that well either.

Class sizes can get pretty large, causing children to get less individualized attention due to inflated student-to-teacher ratios. Most of your working parents will view this as less than ideal for their kiddos.

Oftentimes, care at these on-site centers is only offered during traditional hours, between about 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Who does this leave out? A lot of employees who work outside those hours, whether on second or third shifts, on nights or “graveyards,” or on weekends.

Another disadvantage of these types of centers is baked in: while they can be an option for parents who live nearby and also work at your headquarters, on-site childcare does not really help the remote workforce at all.

In looking at the future of work, hybrid and remote employees are the true livelihood of many organizations. Unfortunately, on-site centers exclude your remote parents from accessing the same childcare support that their on-site colleagues may use.

Yet another drawback of many on-site childcare centers is that they basically only cater to very young children, the infant and toddler set. This leaves out a lot of families with school-age kids who may need afternoon care once school is out, as well as all-day care during the summer and scheduled holiday breaks.

Offering more flexible childcare options off-site

So if going the on-site facility route has these inherent limitations, what about your off-site options? There are more flexible childcare benefits programs available with childcare providers in other areas beyond your headquarters location. These caregivers offer more adjustable schedules, a variety of teaching methods, and accept a wider age range of kids, which means your working families can actually put their childcare benefits to good use!

Typically, these providers can be found in different urban, suburban, and rural areas, closer to where your employees live. Parents only pay for the childcare that they use. There is also less overhead for you as the employer, along with fewer responsibilities and liabilities compared to an on-site childcare center. It really is a win-win situation.

WeeCare regularly talks to organizations like yours about their childcare benefits needs and can help you determine the right program for your unique workforce. Whatever solution you settle on to support your working families, we are here to be a part of that conversation and provide you with as much information as possible to make this important decision.

Feel free to contact us at benefits@weecare.co or you can visit WeeCare.co to find out more about how WeeCare helps families, childcare providers, and employers in communities across America.

Read a letter from our CEO about employers’ role in childcare benefits and how we can all work together to build a brighter childcare future for everyone.

WeeCare was founded in 2017 and has become a leader in the childcare technology and employee childcare benefits spaces, building the largest network of childcare providers in the United States. The company is making strides in solving the childcare crisis by providing employers and families access to affordable, high-quality childcare while supporting childcare providers in operating sustainable businesses through a technology-based marketplace.

Related Articles