CHILD CARE: Day Care for Sick Kids Makes a Comeback
Sick-child care, in which a parent takes their child to a day care facility instead of taking a day off from work, "is reborn in Nashville, Tenn., with a new business model," the Wall Street Journal reports. Day care centers for sick children, which have been historically unprofitable, have been around for more than 20 years. But such centers "starve to death financially" because they operate on a fee-for-service basis, "which means they get paid as the kids come in." But a new model, developed by Dr. Bob Faber, a Nashville physician, "blends elements of a hospital and traditional day care center in a bid to create a popular employee benefit." Faber's start-up company, Get Well Centers LLC, allows companies to buy "sick-child days" ahead of time, which employees then can use to take their kids to the Get Well Center when their children are sick. So far, the company has attracted 39 clients, for a combined purchase of 4,400 sick-child days at about $65 a day. Employees make a $10 or $20 co-pay for each visit to the center.
Get Well raised $1.2 million from 13 private investors to launch its operation, and in its second round of fundraising, the company is halfway to its $5 million goal. Although the idea appears novel, Get Well faces "parental suspicion that employers, by offering this benefit, might be pressuring parents who want to stay home with their sick child to go to work instead." But CCH Inc., a Chicago employee benefits consulting firm, estimates that it costs businesses $602 in lost productivity for each worker day lost. Although "nobody has been able to make [sick-child care] economically viable as a chain," and the concept faces an uncertain future, the idea still resonates well with some parents. Meg Crisp, a mother of three and director of administration at Arthur Anderson in Nashville, said, "After I tried it, my daughter loved it. It's great piece of mind just knowing it's there as an option" (Ho, 3/30).