For parents who work the night shift, the prospects for high-quality child care are usually dim. Not so for those who work at one of Toyota’s major U.S. manufacturing sites, however.
Toyota North America has been providing onsite, 24-hour-a-day care for employees’ children at its largest global site, in Georgetown, Kentucky, since 1993, and at its Princeton, Indiana, facility since 2003. The company subsidizes care to ensure affordability for all employees.
Not just a retention tool: “I’ve been asked, ‘Is this just a retention tool?’” said Toyota Group Manager for People and Property Services Myriah Sweeney, who oversees the auto manufacturer’s Family Care Services division, which includes child care. “The answer is no. Our employees take care of us, and we take care of them.”
- This was especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, when nearly one in five working-age adults left the labor force to care for children.
- Toyota’s care center stayed open and even offered in-person learning “pods” for school-age children.
The Toyota family: Employer-provided child care—particularly of the Toyota type, which is open overnight and on Saturdays and managed by the award-winning Bright Horizons Family Solutions Inc.—is a highly prized benefit.
- “We hear from families all the time, ‘This is part of the reason I stay here,’” said Sweeney, who counts herself among that contingent. “We actually have some employees now that were kids in our center that we helped raise and are now teachers or are working at Toyota. It creates a sense of family.”
- Toyota’s child care benefit has “touched approximately 10% of the workforce” over the past five years, Sweeney said.
How it works: Toyota’s two care facilities, which “are open pretty much anytime Toyota is open,” cater to children as young as six weeks.
- There are pick-up and drop-off points for local school bus routes, and center employees feed breakfast to early morning arrivals and dinner to overnight and late-stay attendees.
- Care-center teachers also help with homework and get kids safely on and off buses.
Additional benefits: The vehicle maker’s Family Care Services extend beyond children to include tutoring and pet care company discounts, counseling services and informational help for employees who act as caregivers outside of work.
- Toyota also gives every team member 15 days a year of “emergency backup care,” a company-subsidized program that allows employees to have vetted, qualified care providers come to their houses to look after elderly relatives or children “when things go haywire—the water main breaks or a babysitter calls in sick,” Sweeney said.
Next up: Toyota plans to expand the child care capacity at its Indiana plant, to the tune of an additional 75 to 80 spots, Sweeney said.
- The company is also working with architectural firms in Mississippi to design a child care facility for its factory in that state, which is located in an area with few child care centers.
The last word: Toyota’s interest in providing employees with support goes beyond wanting to maintain its workforce.
- “We try to encompass everything that anybody would possibly need and help them with that,” Sweeney said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”