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VGM sends ‘strong message’ with new childcare center

VGM sends ‘strong message’ with new childcare center

Cassie PriceWATERLOO, Iowa – The VGM Group expects to open an on-site childcare center in November, helping the community fill a dire need and positioning the company, whose workforce is mostly female, at the leading edge of employee recruitment and retention.  

“Twenty-eight percent of the childcare businesses in our area have closed in the last five years, and we’re not able to solve that problem completely, but we’re part of the solution,” said Cassi Price, vice president of corporate projects for VGM. “It also sends a strong message to our employee owners and the community about our value alignment with them in being family friendly and focused.”  

Here’s what Price had to say about the two-year process of seeing the childcare center, which will have openings for 66 children up to five years old, come to life.  

HME News: What made VGM prioritize having a childcare center on campus?  

Cassi Price: We began experiencing more and more work hardships coming up with different employee owners having to change their work schedule or setting, due to issues with childcare – or they were returning from maternity leave and there were no childcare spots available. We also realized, during the pandemic, that working from home with a child was complicated for many, not to mention not an option for some.   

HME: Once you determined this was a major issue, what happened next?  

Price: When we returned to the office from the pandemic, we started forecasting what an onsite childcare center would cost us. Quite serendipitously, while we were doing that forecasting, Future Ready Iowa released the Iowa Child Care Business Incentive Grant and we applied and received a grant for about $1.3 million to get the center developed and set to operate long-term. In March, we began renovating approximately 8,000 square feet of existing office space at VGM’s headquarters in Waterloo, Iowa, for the child care center.  

HME: Why did VGM decide to partner with Community United Child Care Centers and Preschool to run the childcare center?  

Price: We chose a model for our childcare center where we partner with a local, longstanding and reputable child care provider to come in and completely run the childcare center as an extension of their business exclusively serving VGM’s working parents. We own the space and the furnishings, but Community United Child Care Centers will run it, in terms of staffing, planning and communicating with parents. They have been in operation for decades and this will be their fourth location.  

HME: How else is VGM re-envisioning employee recruitment and retention? Earlier this year, we wrote about how the company was one of 11 employers in Iowa to be awarded a grant to develop solutions to reduce language barriers.   

Price: The language learners program is another opportunity to grow and develop employee owners in a really crucial area, and we’re excited that we’ve put together a program that meets them where they’re at. We decided to make it part of their day and we made it a physical classroom setting, but utilize an online language learning platform, so everyone learns at their own pace. We’re seeing great progress: A month and a half into the program, half of our learners have already moved into the next stage of their language proficiency.


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