Resolving Daycare Concerns A Boon For One Virginia CU

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Looking to reduce employee tardiness and absenteeism while boosting employee morale? Consider establishing a day care center.

That's what Northwest FCU, here, did as a way to combat some of the problems its working parents faced on a day- to-day basis.

"In the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, everyone travels big distances to get to work, and when you add dropping off and picking up a child at daycare to the equation, you can have a lot of people coming late or leaving early to pick up children," said Paul Barrath, one of the HBE architects who worked with Northwest FCU to create the freestanding daycare center that is just a couple hundred feet away from the credit union's headquarters.

"It gives parents a good feeling to know they can just walk right over and have lunch with their child," said George Shoemaker, administrative services manager for the credit union. "If a child gets sick or there's some other emergency, in just a matter of minutes the parent can be there. They're just feet away, and it gives parents a sense of security."

The credit union didn't want to get into the daycare business, so HBE helped Northwest interview daycare providers. Northwest leases the daycare center to Nobel Learning Centers, Inc., a well-known, well-respected name in daycare in the D.C. area, Shoemaker said.

Credit union employees receive a discount on the child care services and have first dibs on available slots at the center. After CU employees, CU members and tenants who lease space from the credit union have all had a chance to accept or refuse openings at the center, members of the community are welcome to put their children in the daycare center.

Keeping the daycare center separate from the credit union's actual place of business was a decision born of both security and aesthetics, Barrath said. "From a security standpoint, you don't want to include a daycare facility in your building," he noted. "Plus, you want children to feel like they're at home, not at work. The daycare facility looks like a one-story colonial home."

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