When to ‘bring your kid to work’ is everyday

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The following column, written by Jessyca Stoepker, is based on interviews with two employees of the Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs: Amanda Bomers, Director of Human Resources; and Mandy Gray, Director of Resort Accommodation.

The situation for child care centers in northern Michigan has grown increasingly grim. According to a report by Networks Northwest, in 2017 there were only 43 licensed child care providers in Emmet County, up from 48 in 2010. Experts at the nonprofit based in Research asserts that this is a common trend, estimating that the Northwestern region of Lower Michigan has lost about 30% of its child care providers over the past decade, despite population growth.

Amanda Bomers, director of human resources at Boyne Highlands, agrees that access to childcare services in the area is limited and that the facilities or in-home options that exist are always full or very expensive.

“We pay competitive salaries in the area, but when you factor in the cost of housing, transportation and childcare, it almost beats the team member,” Bomers says.

Amanda bomers

Even though parents are able to navigate a confusing child care system and find options, it is often unaffordable. The median household income in the region is less than $ 47,000 per year, while the cost of childcare for two children (an infant and a preschooler) in the most affordable setting – care at home – is about $ 14,000 per year ($ 1,160 per month). This is roughly 30% of household income, which is equivalent to a mortgage payment or college tuition.

“At this point, many people are wondering if leaving home to find a job is worth it. “

Bomers explains that this is why, in 2019, Boyne Highlands decided to create his own solution: to open an on-site daycare to recruit and retain employees.

“Being a new mother at the time, I knew the challenges of enrolling in daycare. Either places were full or there was a long waiting list, or they couldn’t give you an answer on an available place until the week you needed it. It was very stressful, ”she says. “By offering our own on-site babysitting service, we hoped to alleviate this stress for our team. That was the overall goal. “

Mandy Gray

The parent must work on site while the child is in daycare. It’s a small setup, and while it’s not free, it has one of the lowest costs in the area.

“We think it’s important to offer this to team members throughout the year. They don’t have to worry about who is watching their children, or whether they can afford it or not, ”Bomers says.

“We have a great team running it, six people in total. At the moment we are only open to team members and we are fully booked due to space and staff. But when the world is back to normal, we usually offer this service to customers as well. This is a great advantage.

Research has shown that increasing access to child care not only reduces the likelihood of absenteeism from work, but also increases the size of a region’s labor market.

“We are operating during the pandemic and opened the facility just before it, so it is difficult to measure the results or predict the future at this time. But I believe in the long run we’ll see great things come out of it. It is an incredible benefit to be able to get your child to work with you. If a situation arises, you are only a few minutes away. This reassures our staff. “

“Will it generate income? No, but it will generate long-lasting team members who will be grateful for being able to spend more time with their children, ”said Bomers. “This is how we show our employees that we care about them and their families. “

This mindset is exactly the goal of the Petoskey Chamber’s Thriving Petoskey initiative, and Boyne Highlands’ innovative approach to a community-wide issue has not gone unnoticed. The company was one of a dozen companies that have grown into an official “Flourishing Petoskey Company” after completing a recent workshop. The successful Petoskey committee members see Boyne Highlands and his peers as key players in the future of our region.

Bomers says she strongly supports the Thriving Petoskey initiative and believes it is important that all companies are involved in the change.

“It takes a community to make it happen and we live in a big community! We support each other and learn from each other, ”says Bomers. “We don’t always have to be the same or go the same route, but we can always find great solutions. “

Jessyca Stoepker is Co-Chair of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Thriving Petoskey Committee and submitted this article in the chamber’s Thriving Petoskey column series.

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