Once I was visibly pregnant, many assumed I was leaving my restaurant to stay at home with my kids. It felt like I had two choices: abandon my family to pursue my career or stay at home to be a baby maker. Our industry deserves more flexible thinking than that. It turns out many of my team members were struggling to balance work and parenting too. So, I helped create an employer-subsidized childcare program tailored to my team’s needs. Parents could drop their kids off at vivvi – a local childcare and early learning center from 7 am to 1 am. Given what I experienced at west -bourne, I know employer-subsidized programs work if there are government incentives. Childcare needs to function like healthcare, with tax rebates to make the economics tenable. There are of course many hurdles: getting a childcare operator to accommodate restaurant hours and affordability, plus building awareness for these programs – how they operate and how team members can take advantage. You must invest in training, information sharing, and creative scheduling to help foster significant change. This is a whole new world for our industry and in the absence of structural childcare support, it will take time and leadership to steer the boat in a new direction.
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