Parental peace of mind

Parental peace of mind

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This is a guest post from Kids & Company
(Member since 2017)


Heather Laura Clarke

Kids & Company helping businesses offer creative benefits

Most parents have experienced the panic of waking up to a school cancellation on a workday they just can’t miss. But what if you knew you had a back-up childcare solution, pre-arranged by your employer, which meant you wouldn’t need to miss work?

The idea first came to Victoria Sopik and Jennifer Nashmi 15 years ago when they founded Kids & Company, a Toronto-based childcare company with just four employees and one centre. They were both busy working mothers with 11 children between them and decided to help companies offer creative benefits that went beyond gym memberships.

When a business purchases a membership with Kids & Company, their employees get a variety of discounts, free parenting workshops and events throughout the year. Employers and/or employees can also buy packages that provide their employees or themselves with free or discounted “back-up” days when they’re scrambling for childcare.

“Having these back-up days means their employees don’t need to call in sick or use a vacation day if they’re stuck for childcare,” says Kids & Company Director of Sales and Marketing, Linda Starr.

A business holding a Kids & Company membership is only charged when the back-up days are used and Starr says it’s the comfort of knowing they’re available that assists employees peace of mind, whether they are used or not.

“Knowing they have Kids & Company as a back-up solution saves so many people from undue stress and it also makes them feel more favourable about their employer,” says Starr. “It’s an extremely attractive benefit for working parents and it can be used as a recruiting or a retention tool.”

Starr says some companies go above and beyond for their employees and enlist Kids & Company to manage in-home nanny services and elder-care support through their network of partners. This not only decreases employee absenteeism but fosters a feeling of mutual appreciation.

“It isn’t all about salary increases. More employers are looking for creative ways to help their people and support their lifestyle,” says Starr.

Today, Kids & Company boasts 99 locations across Canada and the U.S. and employs more than 2,200 people. It regularly makes Deloitte’s list of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies and the company has won a number of other prestigious awards, ranging from RBC Women Entrepreneur Award and EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year – Business to Business Award.

Locally, the company has locations in Dartmouth, Halifax, Hammonds Plains and Bedford. Unlike most other childcare centres, Kids & Company takes it easy on parents by not charging late fees.

“A lot of places will charge $5 per minute and it goes up from there, but we don’t do that,” says Starr. “We understand that sometimes parents are stuck on a call and running late.”

There also isn’t a hot dog or bowl of microwaved mac-and-cheese in sight, which parents appreciate. The centres offer creative, healthy menus featuring lunches like Korean beef, veggie pad Thai and fish tacos, along with plenty of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables.

The menu is consistent across all 99 locations, which helps if a child needs to attend different centres. Starr says some families send their children to multiple Kids & Company locations so they can travel with their parents on business trips.“

We had a bank employee who needed to spend two weeks each month in Toronto and the other two weeks in Chicago — her toddler went back and forth with her,” says Starr. “She liked that although he had different teachers and friends at each location, the look, the programming and the food was the same for him.”

“If he was in Toronto on Monday eating brown rice, broccoli and tilapia, that’s what they were eating the same day in Chicago."

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