Addressing The Child Care Shortage: Lee Container offers unique employee benefit

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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A Centerville company is gaining statewide attention for a proactive new benefit it’s offering to employees. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds was on hand for an October 31 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new daycare facility in Centerville that will largely serve children of Lee Container employees.

While chatting with Lee Container President Robert Varnedoe at a governor’s deer hunt a few years ago, Gov. Reynolds gave early encouragement for his idea to open a day care in Centerville. At the ribbon cutting, she praised Lee Container’s efforts and the impact such actions can have on overall economic growth.

“We want to acknowledge how impressed we were to see one of the community’s major employers step up and help provide solutions to its most important aspect: its workforce,” Reynolds said. “It’s the pure definition of an exemplary corporate citizen. With great vision and generosity, Lee Container recognized the need to provide child care not only to your employees but to the entire community.”

There are a number of small, in-home day cares operating in Centerville. But up until now, there’s only been one larger day care facility in town. The lack of child care options has long been a problem for area parents. “One of the top three reasons for employees missing work is child care issues,” said Jay Dillard, administrative coordinator for Lee Container.

Lee Container is a plastic container manufacturer that employs about 200 people in Centerville. Dillard said it was Varnedoe who not only recognized the need for child care in the community but decided to take action.

A Lee Container affiliate company bought the former Garfield Elementary School and has been renovating it to comply with day care licensing standards. Michelle Brook of Curious Kids, an existing Centerville day care, has been contracted to operate the facility. Lee Container is committed to making the day care a success and has made a substantial financial investment in the facility and its renovations.

Lee Container employees will be able to access subsidized child care at the new facility as a part of their benefits package. The idea is that such a valuable benefit will also aid in the company’s recruitment efforts, and will help retain long-term workers.

“Our company president wants to create a Lee Container family atmosphere where employees feel as though we’re trying to address concerns that directly affect their lives,” explains Dillard.

Curious Kids is now open to the public and soon will be open to children of Lee Container employees. The facility currently has the capacity to serve up to 35 children. When the project is complete, there will be room for about 65.

“To me it’s absolutely amazing that Robert was committed to doing this,” said Dillard. “This is an investment in the recruitment and retention of our employees. The day care is a labor of love for the Lee Container family and the community.”

Visit the Appanoose Economic Development website for this story or to read other success stories.

Category: Blog, Economic Development News

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