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 Article of Interest - Child Care

MA Staples' growing child-care center serves as state, national model
by Greg Turner, September 30, 2002, Metro West Daily News
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When Staples Inc. broke ground on a child-care center at its new corporate headquarters four years ago, company officials weren't sure if all 100 slots would be booked.

"Then in a short span of time, the whole thing filled up," said Susan Hoyt, Staples' executive vice president of human resources.

Yesterday, the Framingham-based office supply chain formally dedicated an expanded child-care center that is more than twice the size of the original.

The center, managed by Bright Horizons, a Watertown-based, child-care organization, is located near Staples' headquarters building at the 9/90 Corporate Center.

Staples added on-site day care in spring 1999 to help the company retain workers in what was a tight job market. Since then, the company has learned how important it is to offer the service to its employees.

Hoyt said 30 percent of women with children think about not returning to work within the first year after delivering a baby. "We don't really want that to happen at Staples," she said.

The center, built by Cranshaw Construction of Newton, expanded to 16,400 square feet from the original 7,900. It houses up to 216 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 6 years.

Because Staples paid for the building, more slots are available for infants and toddlers, which cost more to serve than preschool-age children, according to Dave Lissy, chief executive officer of Bright Horizons.

Bright Horizons also is able to give higher salaries and better benefits to the staff of 33 teachers, Lissy said.

"This is an example of how to do it really well," Lissy said of the Staples center.

Bright Horizons also operates child-care centers at EMC Corp. in Hopkinton, Reebok International Ltd. in Canton, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, among others.

Ardith Wieworka, commissioner of the state Office of Child Care Services, said Staples has made a "tremendous investment" in its employees and their children.

"This is a model not just for the commonwealth but the country," she said, adding that only a handful of companies in the state have on-site child-care services. "This is state-of-the-art, top-notch. This is the best it gets."

Laura Granaham, who has enrolled all three of her children, said the center's proximity to her office at Staples "can't be beat." The Concord resident said parents and children have formed lasting relationships.

"That kind of stability and friendship and bonding is really a special thing and really instills a sense of community in the kids and in the parents," Granaham said.

Hopkinton resident Lisa Hamblet, vice president of business-to-business e-commerce at Staples, said she finds a sense of balance from having her child at the center.

"The stress that the day-care center has relieved ... has been really helpful," she said.

Staples gives priority to its employees but the center also accepts children of parents who work elsewhere in the area. The center provides education and developmental programs, as well as play time.

One project that's part learning and part fun is called "Lasting Impressions." Lisa Asselborn, director of the child-care center, said children and parents together are making a quilt to mark the dedication of the new center.

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