Addressing a growing demand from working parents, a child care provider in western Massachusetts is expanding its hours to include nights and weekends.
With funding from several large employers and a philanthropist, Springfield-based Square One Monday announced plans to expand its network of state-licensed home-based daycare centers to eventually accommodate up to 300 children whose parents need to work second- or third-shifts and weekends
Joan Kagan, Square One President and CEO, said the initiative is called “Square One: Next Level.”
"We hear from employers that the barriers to hiring, training and retaining employees are child care and transportation," said Kagan. "Child care is something we can address."
Funds for the effort came from several major employers with 24-7 operations including the new MGM casino, Baystate hospital, and Smith & Wesson.
Square One has already started to train new family child care providers to take care of children during non-traditional work hours.
" Without doing any recuitement or publicity, we already have six providers in the process of finalizing their license and we have four more who have expressed interest, so we are meeting our first year goal in the first two months," Kagan said.
State law limits to six the number of children who can be in a home-based daycare setting with a single licensed provider.
Kagan said the goal is to have enough home-based, or family providers, certified within the next three years to offer day care on nights and weekends to 250-300 children. Square One-managed providers currently have about 250 children in their care between 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.
"We are delighted to do it," said Kagan. " We are part of the community infrastructure of helping parents get to work knowing their children are safe."
David Cruise, president of the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board, praised the announcement.
"This is an economic development issue," said Cruise. "It is important for companiesto have these services for their employees and their families and would think there would be some interest in leveraging some state investment on some level."
$100,000 was raised to launch the new day care initiative. Employer contributions were matched by philanthropist Lyman Wood. He described the child care endeavor as a win-win opportunity to help the region’s economy and generate money for Square One’s pre-school programs.
" They joined, I joined," Lyman said about the matching funds challenge he issued to area businesses. " Now we can hire the people and start the state acreditation and everything else. It was a natural."
Wood said Square One had been set back financially when one of its buildings was heavily damaged in the 2011 tornado and a second building destroyed by a gas explosion a year later.