This will be devastating to about 180 families whose kids are enrolled those centers now, but it’s also a blow to all working parents who keep begging their employers for help. Apparently, the cavalry is not coming. Turns out, it’s actually retreating.
Let’s start with the basics.
Finding quality child care in the Washington area is harder than finding snow in March.
I remember when I was about to head back to work after having my first child. I compiled a list of day-care centers that looked good and began calling.
“What’s your due date?” one asked.
“Due date? My child is born. He’s here,” I said.
“Well, our waiting list is about two years long,” the woman replied.
They still haven’t called me back. That child is now a third-grader.
So the very idea of 180 families flooding the market for child care — a month after most application deadlines have passed (yes, it’s kind of like college) — is ludicrous.
“They just laughed at me when I called,” said a nurse who just lost her child care. She has booked five tours and is getting on waiting lists for at least a dozen places. Don’t forget, it costs about $50 just to get your name on a waiting list.
Add to that the complications of health-care workers. Doctors, nurses, physical therapists and lab techs don’t work bankers’ hours. That was one of the beautiful things about the Inova’s child-care centers, and why it made perfect sense for the hospitals to provide such a resource.
The centers have operated for 30 years and have been a primo recruiting tool for the hospitals, which tout them as a way to boost employee retention, productivity and happiness.
I talked to about a half-dozen parents affected by this abrupt decision. Most of them were too fearful of losing their jobs to let me quote them by name. Some were recruited right out of school and made the decision to go with Inova largely because of the child-care centers.
“My supervisor’s kids, who are now in college, went there,” said a worker who pointed to the longevity of the child-care center’s employees and, in turn, the longevity of women’s careers.
“I wouldn’t have been able to stay in my field the way I have without the center,” a woman who has been working at Inova for 10 years told me.
So why is Inova closing them?
“Last year, Inova spent more than $1 million more to operate the center than we brought in from tuition,” Inova spokesman Tony Raker said. “Inova looked to work with other child-care providers to maintain the program, but efforts at partnership were not successful.”