On-Site Daycare Is Coming to Womens' Coworking Center in SoHo

(Bloomberg) -- At The Wing, every day is bring your kid to work day. Or at least it will be come December for women who work out of the SoHo office in New York.

Starting this winter, the women’s only coworking space will pilot on-site daycare at one of its five locations. The Little Wing daycare center will be available to all SoHo members of The Wing and any of its 6,000 members who have an all-access pass. If the pilot goes well, the program may expand to its other locations.

“Being a parent is a full time job,” said Lauren Kassan, the co-founder and chief operating office of The Wing. “It’s really important for us to offer solutions to our members who are parents.” Little Wing will offer babysitting, classes, and access for parents and children on the weekends.

The Wing -- a center for professional women to incubate businesses, share office resources, and network -- is offering one of the rarer benefits. Only about 3 percent of more than 3,000 companies surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management in 2018 offered it to their workers. That percentage has held steady for a few years, as employers avoid the expense and liability issues. Clothing retailer Patagonia has estimated its daycare center costs $1 million a year.

The Wing estimates about 20 percent of its members have children, and the daycare center will hold 8 to 15 children at a time. Some of the offerings will come included with the organization’s $2,350-to-$2,700 annual memberships, while others will cost a fee that Kassan calls “a lot cheaper” than comparable services.

Day care is notoriously expensive, costing almost as much as rent, in part because state regulations require centers to adhere to strict child-to-caregiver ratios.

Most working parents receive very little assistance from their workplaces when it comes to childcare, which tends to interfere with the workday. About a quarter of employers surveyed by SHRM allow parents to bring their kids to work in case of an emergency. Only about 2 percent of employers offer some sort of subsidized program; another 3 percent offer a program but no subsidy.

With the labor market tightening and companies focusing on family-friendly benefits, that might be starting to change. This month, Starbucks announced a subsidized new child care program for its U.S. employees.

The Wing has three New York City locations, plus sites in Washington and San Francisco with and other cities planned, according to its website.

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