November 4, 2022
Caitlin Codella Low
VP, Policy & Programs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Finding the right childcare can be a large source of stress and financial burden for many parents. On average, childcare costs just above $6,000 annually for families living in Alabama. This number doubles with the addition of another child. Childcare services may not be offered in convenient locations either, costing the family additional time and money to commute.
Employers like Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) in Alabama have worked to develop a comprehensive childcare program to mitigate these challenges their employees face. Companies leading the charge in childcare attended the Childcare Roadmap for Employers event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to discuss how businesses can continue to support employees’ childcare needs.
Companies Must Develop a Solution That Works for Their Team
Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) is a large manufacturing factory in Huntsville, Alabama. It employs about 4,000 people to work on various functions of the company’s assembly process, from building the frame to polishing the paint. According to Yuris Guzman, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, the recruiting range is quite large, attracting employees up to 75 miles away. This provides unique obstacles to childcare.
“[For those who] relocate to Alabama, one of their concerns is ‘I'm brand new to the state, I might not have any family members that can help and support with childcare,’” Guzman said.
To solve this problem, MTM began to work with Tootris, an on-demand childcare company, to help parents find daycare services in their area. It also began to offer money toward covering daycare.
Companies Can Collaborate with Their Local Chamber of Commerce
MTM discovered Tootris with the help of its local Chamber of Commerce. Lyndsay Ferguson, VP of Workforce at the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber, got in touch with MTM leadership to let them know about the service, hoping it could work for their employees. According to Ferguson, Tootris’s on-demand model is perfect for a company like MTM.
“A 75-mile radius is a huge radius, so if you know that childcare is preferred closer to home … having something on-site is still only meeting a certain demand,” Ferguson said.
The Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce has not only helped companies like MTM find childcare solutions — the organization continues to locate opportunities to help working parents in the community. It has hosted two separate summits to discuss childcare and has initiated the Best Place for Working Parents program, which recognizes businesses in the area that are dedicated to providing childcare options.
“We've implemented a 'Best Place for Working Parents' program so that we’re able to spotlight this among our business community,” Ferguson said.
Determine How Your Company Can Provide for Your Team Moving Forward
The first step in solving a problem at your own company is to recognize a need. This is how MTM began advocating for childcare for its employees and how the business ended up working with the local Chamber of Commerce.
Then, leaders have to decide, “What is the problem you're trying to solve for your company, and what does that look like,” Ferguson said. Then, contact your local chamber for resources.
If you’re on the fence about starting an initiative at your company, Ferguson recommends you just do it.
“Do something, even if it is small. [Then] I think over time you [should] evaluate that and see what the impact is and how you have the opportunity to grow it,” Ferguson said.