Childcare Coming for PioneerCare Employees
Starting this fall, PioneerCare employees will have a new, on-site childcare option just steps away from their workplace.
PioneerKids will offer on-site childcare services for up to twelve children – infants, toddlers, and preschoolers – in Homestead Cottage, one of three buildings originally designed for providing memory care. The building was vacated last November due to staffing shortages.
Such worker shortages are seen all over town and a multitude of theories attempt to explain why. The causes are indeed multiple, and a lack of adequate childcare is one major challenge for working parents of young children.
According to First Children’s Finance, a nonprofit consulting and financing organization specializing in childcare, the most recent analysis showed in Fergus Falls alone there were 1,168 children under six years old with working parents. At the same time, total licensed childcare capacity in Fergus Falls was just 645 children. This means Fergus Falls providers are serving just over half of the community’s need for childcare.
A survey completed in March identified at least 29 PioneerCare employees who are parents of 46 children requiring childcare. While some parents were satisfied with current arrangements, most would prefer a different option or haven’t been able to find suitable childcare. Employees indicated a strong preference for on-site childcare.
In response, PioneerCare will offer childcare services tailored to fit employee needs. PioneerKids will offer early drop-off to accommodate day shift hours, serving children from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Direct dependents of Pioneer employees (Pioneer Care Center, Pioneer Cottages, Pioneer Pointe, and PioneerLink) will have priority placement. If capacity allows, PioneerKids may accept children from the greater community.
While PioneerKids will operate under a family-based license, it will offer many benefits of a center-based provider, such as adequate staffing to prevent closures due to provider vacation, training, and sick days.
Cooperative work scheduling will help accommodate employees’ childcare needs, for example, the possibility of splitting a “slot” between two employees who each work only 2-3 weekdays.
With its location on the PioneerCare campus, the commute to work will be simpler, employees will have easy access to their children during breaks or in case the parent or guardian is needed, and children will have intergenerational opportunities with Pioneer residents for activities and socialization.
“The prospect of offering on-site childcare has been surfacing here for years,” said Fandrich. “In a recent meeting to find new ways to support our employees, a group brought a well thought out proposal to consider. Taking the conversation further, we decided it was the right time to implement it.”
In July, PioneerCare employees will be invited to meet the new provider for PioneerKids, tour the location, and make reservations for fall placement.