In recent years, the McCook Economic Development Corporation has focused on child care, with innovative programs to boost early childhood care and access. Once a month, Community Connection will share the perspective of someone intimately involved with or affected by our community’s child care situation. This month, Jerry Calvin shares the impact of child care on his business, Taco John’s.
As the owner, along with my wife, Robin, of the Taco John’s franchise in McCook, the hardest part of the business is recruiting, training and retaining quality employees. By the nature of the business we operate in, it takes a specific, resilient type of person to respond to public demands.
And to complicate matters even further, as everyone in America currently knows, the labor pool is almost non-existent.
In the recent past, we had two different employees who were struggling with the same problem: the lack of childcare services for their child.
The first employee was a high school student who was the parent of a young child. He was determined to stay in school and spend the time necessary to play an active role in the child’s life. To do this, he juggled a part-time job to help pay for the child’s needs.
Initially, family members could help care for the child while the employee worked. However, the circumstances of the family’s life made it increasingly difficult to help him provide the child care he needed.
Because of the hours he attended school, the employee was restricted to evenings, nights, and certain weekend hours at Taco John’s. It was an uphill struggle, culminating in the employee’s decision to quit his job because he couldn’t continue to do as well and maintain a quality relationship with his child. It basically boiled down to working or helping to look after her child.
It is, in my opinion, an easy decision because the child always comes first in these kinds of situations. Thus, Robin and I lost a trained and efficient employee simply because there was no evening and/or night care available for the hours needed.
The second employee faced a similar struggle but on the other end of the day.
She was a single mother with few family members to help with childcare. She had the child enrolled in daycare, but the hours of operation limited the hours she would be available to work for us. She was a very good worker, always on time, had excellent customer skills and was a great team member. She had everything.
This employee was asking for as many hours as he could get and we offered him a full-time “opening” position. Opening for us is at 5:30. Didn’t work within the employee’s daycare hours/availability.
And at the end of the employee’s schedule, the employee had to pick up their child in the middle of the afternoon shift, which again restricted the employee’s ability to fulfill the necessary obligations. to maintain full-time status. The employee wanted it to work; however, the lack of early morning childcare made this impossible.
I have been with the McCook Economic Development Corporation for several years. The work done by Andy Long and Milva McGhee to encourage and support our child care providers is nothing short of a miracle.
Also, hats off to McCook’s amazing child care providers. Without these wonderfully talented, patient and caring people, our workforce at McCook would be crippled.
Either way, we still need more options for people who work various shifts within our workforce. I really understand the rules and regulations that our child care providers have to operate within. It’s amazing what they have to do to meet the standards required to keep their licenses.
And, just like Robin and I, they too struggle to find the right people who can work in the child care field. I continue to be optimistic and hope that we can work together to help meet such diverse needs as our two employees have faced.