This week’s post brought to you by guest blogger Karen Burke, Executive Director of DVSAS of Whatcom County.
At Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County, we often refer to our office as our second home and to our co-workers as our second family. All of us in this field are aware of the enormous amounts of time and life energy that are dedicated to our work. It can be challenging to find a healthy work/life balance and for parents this challenge is compounded as they navigating the demands of working and raising children. To help retain our talented working parents, DVSAS of Whatcom County has committed to making our workplace family friendly.
Last year three members of our work family had beautiful new babies. DVSAS was able to offer flexible work schedules, reduced hours for transitions back to work from maternity leave, and additional breaks for breastfeeding moms. In addition to these benefits, we also allowed the new babies to come to work with their moms! We currently have babies Norah, Kai and Bronwyn here who have graduated from almost full time at the beginning to some partial days now. We are already looking forward to the addition of two new babies who are due in June and July.
Now that the babies are a bit older, the moms have pooled together and hired a child care provider who watches the babies on site (after talking to our attorney and insurance agency, of course). The moms take breaks to visit the kids and are able to respond quickly if they are needed. Actually, most of our staff takes breaks to visit the babies!
With the high costs of child care the financial benefit to the working parents is obvious. What was more surprising was the benefit to the entire staff. Having these wonderful little ones in the office provided a boost in staff morale, adding an element of hope and joy to our office that has been regenerative to us. Just yesterday, I heard one of our volunteers say that her favorite thing about being at DVSAS is the babies. It is also not at all unusual to hear staff members say that they need a minute of baby time or a baby hug. In fact, I think it is about time for me to go take a baby break myself.