Managing 24/7

Considerations for Providing 24-Hour Employer Sponsored Child Care

The rise in families where both parents work combined with the increase of single-parent households has pushed some employers to take steps towards evaluating the benefits of offering 24-hour or extended-hour child care for their employees.

Providing 24-hour child care offers several benefits:

  • Improving morale by showing that the company is committed to its workers
  • Reduce absenteeism and stress – parents are no longer scrambling to find someone to take care of their children
  • A powerful recruitment tool for potential new hires
  • Potential federal and state tax credits and benefits for employers that sponsor child care for their employees

Establishing 24-hour care is certainly not something a company should rush into. The last thing you want to do is open a center around the clock and find out there’s not a demand for it. If the company then discontinues the 24-hour service, you risk alienating the people who were participating.

To avoid this sort of a problem, it’s best that companies take a cautious approach. A good rule of thumb to start with is that you need between 1,000 and 1,500 employees to justify having a child care center for employees. An employee base of that size has the potential to yield 100 or more children, enough to justify a center’s existence.

From there, it’s wise to prepare a feasibility study based on an employee survey or focus groups. Bearing in mind that the fewer children attending the center, the larger the cost per child, you need to look at issues such as: What other child care options are available in the community? What percentage of employees have children? How many employees express interest in a company-run center?

While there are no magic answers to these questions, asking them should give you an idea whether a center is a worthwhile venture. It may be more cost-effective for your company to subsidize your employees’ child care costs at an existing local child care center.

While 24/7 childcare centers are very rare, there is some evidence suggesting that more and more childcare centers are extending their hours to meet the increasing their hours to meet the needs of shiftworkers and other working non-traditional hours. For example,

  • The Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association reports that the number of centers offering nighttime hours is up by more than 50 percent since 2003 (Tavernise, 2012)
  • About 7 percent of Ohio’s licensed child care centers offer some sort of after-hours care (Tavernise, 2012)
  • Choice Learning Centers Inc., which runs 46 employer-sponsored child care centers across the United States reports that about 20% of their centers have added nontraditional hours in the past few years (Tavernise, 2012)

If you’re interested in learning more about whether 24-hour child care is a good idea for your organization, check out CIRCADIAN’s report: Cost Benefits of Child Care for Extended Hours Operations.


Sabrina Tavernise, “Day Care Centers Adapt to Round-the-Clock Demand” New York Times, January 16, 2012


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