08/29/08 — Wayne County weighs starting employee day care

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Wayne County weighs starting employee day care

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 29, 2008 1:39 PM

As Wayne County continues to feel the full impact of its recent switch to a four-day workweek, officials are exploring the possibility of starting a day care for children of county employees.

The idea was raised months ago as the county began planning for its new four-day workweek that went into effect Aug. 4.

At that time, county officials said the biggest concern among employees appeared to be day care. Under the new schedule, most county offices are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closed on Fridays.

Employees were concerned about the length of the day for their children and with being able to leave work in time to pick up their children before their day care closed or began charging for the extra time.

To help alleviate those concerns, the county began looking at establishing its own day care in a county-owned building.

Surveys have been sent to county employees to gather information to aid a county committee in its deliberations about the possible establishment of a day care for employees' children.

Don Magoon and Valerie Wallace of Partnership for Children of Wayne County Inc. have been meeting with the committee. Magoon is executive director, and Ms. Wallace is early care and education director of the organization.

The Partnership for Children of Wayne County Inc., a non-profit organization, administers state Smart Start funds to support programs to benefit children from birth to age 5 and their families. It also administers the pre-kindergarten More at Four program in local public school settings, Head Start classrooms and child care facilities.

Sue Guy, county human resources director, said the county sought Magoon and Ms. Wallace because of their expertise in child care.

That expertise, she said, will be "invaluable."

Ms. Guy said the two also have many contacts and work with child care agencies on a daily basis.

Those contacts might figure into how the county resolves the issue, including an option of contracting with private providers, she said.

The survey was sent to all county employees in order to ensure that all parents, grandparents and other child guardians had the opportunity to voice their opinions and needs.

Employees have until next Tuesday to return the surveys.

Ms. Guy said the county could not proceed until it knew what employees' needs are. Also, the county needs to know the ages of the children involved, whether they are infants or school age, and if there are any special needs.

"It may make sense to partner with someone in the county, such as an after-school program," she said. "We need to see what needs are left after that, and that will be our core objective."

Thus far, Ms. Guy has received some 20 completed surveys. Comments have been "very positive," she said.

"One response, I think from the health department, was that it (day care) is an excellent recruiting tool," Ms. Guy said. "A number of folks with children like the idea of the children being in close proximity to them."

The next committee meeting is scheduled for two weeks after the survey results are due.

Ms. Guy said that at present there is no specific timetable for the project. Also, she said it is too early to determine if a county-owned site would be needed to house a day care.