Maybe your mom usually watches the kids, but she's sick today. Maybe your partner is stuck doing emergency overtime and can't come home before your shift starts. Maybe your regular babysitter just totaled her car. As much as working parents plan our schedules, there are things in life we just can't predict.
Unfortunately, rigid workplace cultures don't always reflect the fact that these things happen, but a major employer is making a huge step by not only recognizing that childcare emergencies come up, but also helping parents pay for backup care when they do.
Starbucks is offering employees at U.S. company-owned stores 10 subsidized backup care days a year through Care.com.
When a childcare crunch happens, Starbucks workers' benefits include 10 days where they can pay just $1 an hour for in-home backup child care ($2 an hour after the fourth child) or $5 a day per child for in-center child care.
"This is giving our partners resources for things that happen in regular life. We wanted to give them something to help fill in the gaps," says Ron Crawford, vice president of benefits at Starbucks.
This is huge, and we hope more employers follow suit because at a time when families are paying almost as much for childcare as they are for housing, subsidized childcare is a major perk.
It's also a really rare one.
The Associated Press reports only 9% of companies with 1,000 employees or more offered back-up child care as a benefit, according to a 2017 survey of U.S. employers by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Most employers don't offer this, but maybe they should think about it. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, in 2016 almost 2 million parents of kids under 5 had to quit a job, turn down a job or greatly change their job because of issues finding care providers.
Motherly's own 2018 State of Motherhood survey yielded similar results: A full half of respondents told us they've made changes to their work status—like shifting from full to part-time or quitting to stay home—since becoming parents.
Hopefully, Starbucks is starting a benefit trend that will be as popular as its drinks, because if there's anything parents need as much as coffee, it's help with childcare.