‘Exemplary’ | Mercedes-Benz Vans Charleston offers 'crucial' childcare stipend to working parents

Mercedes-Benz Vans Charleston offers 'crucial' childcare stipend to working parents

Mercedes-Benz Vans (MBV) Charleston has launched a monthly stipend of up to $250 for working parents to put toward childcare.

It is part of a suite of childcare benefits launched by the plant to improve work-life balance for employees and to attract future employees by offering greater accessibility to working parents.

Alongside the monthly stipend designed to reduce childcare costs, MBV Charleston is also expanding childcare options available to its employees. Working parents now have access to over 350 childcare options in the Greater Charleston Area and to over 200,000 programs across the U.S.

The new package gives MBV Charleston employees access to a childcare center network, where they can search, vet, and enroll with licensed childcare providers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Within the first few days of implementing the service, provided in partnership with TOOTRiS, 40% of eligible team members at MBV Charleston signed up. The new benefits are available to employees with children under the age of 12.

The U.S. is currently in a childcare crisis after expired federal funding grants have forced many centers to close, resulting in limited space and higher costs.

The cost of childcare has grown by 1.7% since September when the grant expired, with prices skyrocketing 20% since January 2019. Over the past year, the growth in childcare costs outstripped the rate of inflation.

In Charleston, South Carolina, estimates for the average cost of childcare range from $1,400 per month to $2,300 per month.

Mercedes-Benz Vans childcare benefit “sets a higher standard for other businesses to emulate

“We know that childcare is a barrier to work," says Matt Hamrick, Head of HR at Mercedes-Benz Vans. "In addition to this childcare benefit, we are now also offering for new moms and dads expanded family leave, paid family leave and transportation options."

Lakashia Johnson, a Mercedes-Benz Vans Charleston communication leader, and a mother of two children under the age of 12 who are in daycare, says the program crucial in helping her and her colleagues.

"If I'd have had something like this when I had both of my kids, the anxiety I had going back to work would've been much less than what it was," Johnson says. “We feel like programs like this not only help our team members, but they can help the community as a whole… It could open avenues for childcare centers to reopen or stay open."

CEO and President Axel Bense also hopes the new package will address the challenges of finding childcare and ease the financial burdens on working parents. “This benefit isn't just a pit stop for the company; it's a commitment to supporting the real drivers behind success — working parents,” he states.

In a statement, Mercedes-Benz Vans says the benefits will allow parents to confidently pursue their careers, thereby maintaining excellent employee retention and attracting top talent who seek an employer with family-friendly benefits.

The childcare crisis in the U.S. is increasingly causing workers to become part-time or full-time carers, reducing working hours or leaving the workforce altogether. Many working parents, especially women, are therefore being overlooked for promotions and pay increases.

This is contributing to ‘The Motherhood Penalty’ and other limits on the careers of working parents.

Alessandra Lezama, CEO of TOOTRiS and select member of the ReadyNation CEO Task Force on Early Childhood, says that benefits like Mercedes-Benz Vans’ stipend and childcare option platform tackle the issue of working parent penalties, empowering them to excel in their careers. “When parents can balance their professional responsibilities with the well-being of their children, it creates a ripple effect of positive impact, fostering stronger families, more engaged team members, and ultimately, a thriving and empowered community,” she adds.

The move by Mercedes-Benz Vans has been applauded by Steve Dykes, Charleston County’s Economic Development Executive Director, as another “exemplary illustration of their commitment to their workforce and the broader Charleston County community.”

“This innovative approach, reflecting the understanding that access to child care is critical in ensuring a thriving and productive workforce, sets a high standard for other businesses to emulate,” Dyke says.

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