Badger’s answer to the childcare dilemma

A new childcare center down the street offers affordable options for workers


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W.S. Badger, a family-owned manufacturer of organic body care products, recognized that many working parents face the same problems — inadequate support for a child’s needs and extremely expensive childcare costs. 

In an attempt to remedy these issues for employees, the company introduced a Babies-at-Work program, which allowed employees to bring their infants with them to the workplace, with two hours per average workday set aside for the care of the child. Nine babies have been able to take advantage of the initiative since its creation.

But after a worker’s child grew out of Babies-at-Work, there were still few good options for continued childcare. 

Recognizing this, Katie Schwerin, chief operating officer of Badger, met with a group of early childhood teachers to develop a new program to serve the needs of Badger’s working parents. 

In 2013, Badger opened the Calendula Garden Childcare Center less than a mile from the company’s facility to provide care for employees’ kids ranging from six months old to three years old. The center proved how necessary it was the moment it opened, with six parents immediately registering their children.

Though Calendula isn’t free for employees, Schwerin says that costs are comparable to other local childcare options.

At Calendula, there is a strong focus on mimicking and maintaining a “home environment.” The house that is used for the center is the home of Calendula’s childcare center director and her family, who have separate accommodations on the second floor of the house. Throughout the day, Calendula’s children experience a day as if they were in their own home.

“Every morning, when children arrive at the center, they can smell the morning snack cooking,” Schwerin says. “During the day, the children engage in the cooking, as well as home tasks like folding laundry, gardening, watering plants … as well as just playing and ambling along as toddlers do.”

Last year, the company opened the Calendula Garden Childcare Center to the public to make it more financially viable. However, it still does not accept more than 12 children at a time, so each one can get the attention that he or she deserves.

The childcare center has had a profound effect on Badger employees as well, says Schwerin: Not only does it help them maintain a strong work/life balance, but they can grow with the company and feel vested in its future. 

The “Just One Thing” Campaign is an 18-month effort of New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility. Its purpose is to challenge businesses to consider incorporating a sustainability initiative into their operations. Companies can celebrate their achievements and inspire others by sharing their stories on the campaign’s webpage. To submit your story or read others, visit nhbsr.org/jot.

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