A New Addition to the KEEN Family: On-Site Child Care
KEEN employee Steve Wages normally commutes to work at KEEN headquarters on two wheels. But now baby makes three.
Pushing a stroller, the KEEN retention marketing manager brings his 14-month-old son, Ansel, to the new KEEN KidsCare center, which offers on-site infant and toddler care for employees’ children ages 36 months and younger.
As a company committed to putting its values in motion, KEEN dedicated 2,000 square feet of office space for the center so employees and their families could benefit from easily accessible, high-quality care. The center is focused on delivering specialized care for up to 16 children with state-of-the-art facilities that include custom-made furniture, high-quality toys, non-toxic materials, and cloth diapering.
According to a 2009 US Census Bureau report, more than one-fifth of new mothers don’t return to work within the first year.
“Child care and work-family balance are common challenges for many new or growing families,” says Tyler LaMotte, Chief Marketing Officer at KEEN. “We believe that creating an office environment where family and work are not mutually exclusive helps our employees adjust to raising their family.”
A better workday and commute for parents
KidsCare has been a huge help for Steve’s family. His wife works part-time from home, and this has enabled her to reliably schedule meetings a few days a week. But perhaps it’s made an even bigger impact on Steve’s commute, as he now gets to spend quality time with Ansel going to and from work.
“That’s been fun,” Steve says. “He loves to make friends on the train. If he can get someone’s attention, he’ll start smiling, and he’ll wave to them. I’ve talked to a lot of people on the train that I probably wouldn’t have talked to. It’s made it way more fun.”
A better start for new moms and babies
According to a 2009 US Census Bureau report, more than one-fifth of new mothers don’t return to work within the first year. Corporate child care programs support working parents, particularly women, who want to balance life with baby and a career. Having on-site care allows parents to spend lunch and breaks with their kids, and check in on them during the day. For moms who are nursing, they can continue to do so, making the transition easier.
“The physical proximity is great,” says Meredith Calbreath, KEEN KidsCare manager. “We have a mom who comes and nurses at lunch, so she’s able to feed her child every day. I like that parents can come visit.”
As if this wasn’t already convenient enough, technology also enhances the connection and peace of mind. The teachers use tablets to record everything from feedings to activities. And when children have their diaper changed or take a nap, their parents are notified in real time, and sometimes a picture is uploaded, too.
“The first day they sent me a photo on the app, and he was totally out,” Steve says in amazement. “For me to put him down for a nap, I need to create a totally dark room, put the white noise wave machine on, feed him a bottle, rock him to sleep. I couldn’t believe it.”
The calm, nurturing environment is apparent as soon as you enter the space. Meredith says the teachers follow a few different philosophies when it comes to early childhood development and care.
“We follow a lot of the RIE philosophy, which involves respecting infants and talking to them about what is happening, so they are partners in their care and things aren’t just happening to them,” she explains. “We also mix in a little bit of a Reggio approach with our classroom set-up by trying to bring in the natural environment as much as possible. We also work from the constructionist approach, which is if a child makes their own connection with a material or experience, it’s going to be way more powerful than me sitting there and pointing at it and telling them what it is. So it’s a mix of things.”
It changes the vibe of the workplace, I think, to have kids around. People get so wrapped up in their little world and projects. And then some kids roll by in a stroller. For those thirty seconds, you can’t help but smile—it gets you out of your headspace.
A better workplace for all
Even employees without children in KidsCare are benefitting from the new addition, as we often get to take a quick “baby break” when we see them being strolled around the office.
“It changes the vibe of the workplace, I think, to have kids around,” Steve says. “People get so wrapped up in their little world and projects. And then some kids roll by in a stroller. For those thirty seconds, you can’t help but smile—it gets you out of your headspace.”
And it’s all a new world to explore for Ansel and the rest of the KidsCare kids, who seem to be loving their time here at KEEN.
“It’s so one on one, and they are introducing new toys and activities all the time,” Steve says. “I think he has a blast here.”