Children at work

April 06, 1994

Because of a shortage of licensed child-care -- a recent survey found only one registered day-care space in Maryland for every four children of working mothers -- a number of employers are finding that opening day-care centers can pay off in improved worker morale and productivity.

A case in point is Carroll County's Taney Corp., said to be the first private on-site facility in Maryland, which now has 40 such licensed centers around the state. The family-run stairs manufacturing firm in Taneytown has operated a child-care center for six years and remains fully committed to the program.

The Taney Does Care Center was created out of empty office space in a manufacturing building. It serves pre-schoolers as well as children as old as 10 who need after-school supervision. Because it serves such a wide range of ages, Taney parents are assured their children will have a familiar day-care setting for more than a few years.

Other employer day-care centers have foundered because they limited enrollment to pre-schoolers or would not accept infants. Those unhappy experiences have discouraged many firms from considering on-site child care programs.

The Taney center began in 1988 as a pre-school care facility, but expanded as those youngsters grew up to enter school and other employees needed to find day care for their babies and infants. "We had a number of key employees with child-care problems, and when they didn't have child-care, we didn't have our key employees," explained Audrey Glass, the corporate secretary.

As a mother of four children, she well understood the conflicting demands of parents who work outside the home. Employees feel confident in leaving their children in good hands close to their work site, Mrs. Glass said. Center director Tracey Sanders was recently honored as a top teacher-caregiver in Carroll County.

The flower-decorated door to the Taney center is open 9 1/2 hours a day, Monday through Friday; work schedules can be adjusted to coincide with its operating hours. Workers pay about $60 a week for pre-schoolers; Taney picks up the rest of the cost and provides lunch for the 12 youngsters.

The center is a benefit for both employee and employer and, according to the company, is worth the expense and effort to keep it running year-round. Says company president Eric Glass: "A lot of our employees need or will need this center so we have to keep growing."

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