10/12/08 — County says no daycare for now, but option open

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County says no daycare for now, but option open

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 12, 2008 2:00 AM

There is no need at present for a daycare for the children of county employees, a county committee has reported.

However, in the future such a daycare could be utilized as a recruitment tool, said Sue Guy, Wayne County human resources director.

Ms. Guy, who delivered the report to commissioners at their Tuesday meeting, asked the board to consider the space for such a facility in future building or expansion projects.

The committee of county employees was formed to follow up on a promise made by the county prior to making the transition in August to a four-day workweek.

At that time, daycare had been at the top of employee concerns. Under the four-day schedule, most county offices are open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and are closed on Friday.

Some employees were worried that working to 6 p.m. would keep them from picking up their children from the daycare in a timely manner. To help address the issue, supervisors were authorized to let employees exercise flexible schedules, such as a 30-minute lunch.

Ms. Guy said that when issues such as the daycare situation arise that the best people to offer the solutions are the people who are affected -- county employees. That same process was used to study the four-day week, she said.

Also on the daycare committee were representatives of the Wayne County Partnership for Children.

The first thing the committee decided it needed to do was figure out exactly what the concern was, Ms. Guy said.

"So we did a survey of all employees," she said. "Out of the 1,032 employees, we got 37 surveys back. Not all of these indicated it was a problem. As a matter of fact some did say that in the future they would like for us to look at an on-site daycare."

She said none of the surveys indicated that anyone was "stressing" or had an issue with covering their daycare needs.

"At the same time we surveyed all of the daycare providers in the county and asked them what options they could offer," she said.

Some of the daycare providers expressed a willingness to implement flexible schedules and some even offered discounts to county employees, she said.

Ms. Guy said the committee has the list of daycare providers that employees may consider. The committee will not make any recommendations for a specific daycare, leaving that decision up to the employee.

"The option for the employees are that they can continue to have the shorter lunch break or if they want this list and select someone from it," Ms. Guy said. "At least that gives them some options.

"Now having done that we have one more piece that we are going to do and (this) week, Oct. 14, we are going to have a 'lunch and learn.' Valerie Wallace (of Partnership for Children) is going to give a presentation on how to choose a daycare and talk about some of the options with Partnership for Children. There are a lot of other services out there that our employees might not be aware of."

Ms. Guy said representatives from the daycare community also would be in attendance to speak about their services.

County Manager Lee Smith noted that the daycare issue is not just about having young children.

"Some of the families have special needs," he said. "Some have older parents. We have been seeing more of that and that is why we have been talking with Services on Aging about the potential in the future about adult daycare in our community.

"We are getting more and more calls. Our respite care program is really maxing out. A lot of employees have the responsibility of special-needs children or adults or older family members."