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Backup or Emergency Childcare

Backup and emergency childcare programs are offered at an employer’s work site, in centers or in an employee’s home, and allow employees to continue working despite temporary disruptions in normal caregiving arrangements or when a child is mildly ill. Employers can negotiate rates with local childcare facilities.

Benefits to Employers

  • Increases productivity
  • Improves recruitment
  • Increases retention, reducing turnover costs
  • Reduces employee absenteeism
  • Reduces “fill-in” costs

Benefits to Children and Families

  • Reduces stress
  • Improves work/life balance
  • Emergency or back-up care may reduce risk of spreading illness when a child is mildly ill by encouraging parents to keep the child out of normal daycare or school
  • Reduces financial burden when employer negotiates a lower rate

Employers who are ready to get started can:

  • Provide employees with a list of emergency childcare facilities in the area.
  • Offer employees access to care through an online membership service.
  • Contract with a childcare company to put a back-up childcare facility on site.
  • Offer access to a local childcare facility with reserved emergency spots or an in-house childcare coordinator who can find emergency care.

Range of Practices in the United States

Ten percent of workers had access to any workplace childcare benefit in 2017.137

Four percent of more than 3,000 US Society of Human Resources Management members offered access to back-up childcare in 2018.

Low-wage workers, who often have the greatest difficulty finding and paying for high quality childcare, are less likely to receive childcare benefits at work. Only two percent of workers whose wages were in the bottom 10 percent had access to any childcare benefit in 2017.

More than eight in 10 working parents say they wish their employer offered some sort of childcare benefit, and more than seven in 10 parents say their work has been impacted by unreliable care.

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