For most parents, returning to work after maternity or paternity leave can be a challenge. Leaving your child in the hands of a new caregiver can be heart-wrenching, not to mention the daily dance parents do with daycare drop off and pick up. But Atlantis makes things a little easier for its working parents.
The school is home to a parent-run and parent-funded day care for children from birth to age 5. It is open to all Atlantis employees. Parents pay a daily rate per child that is combined with a grant from the Atlantis Educational Foundation to cover the salaries of the daycare employees. The cost is determined by the number of children enrolled, and the foundation subsidy serves to keep costs lower than most daycare alternatives. Parents also supply a Pack ‘n Play for naps and other items their child needs during the day. There are plenty of age-appropriate toys for the kids to play with – donated by families over the years.
The daycare was the brainchild of Corrie Marchand and then-teacher Lindsey McConnell. They came up with the idea in 2012 when they were both pregnant.
“We thought it would be convenient to have our babies close by during the day, so we wrote up a proposal and presented it to school leaders,” Marchand explained. “They were extremely supportive of the idea, and it has been well received by staff as well. The staff members who use the daycare are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to bring their children to work.”
The daycare is like one you would find at a gym. Because it is not a licensed facility, a parent must be on the school campus at all times. If they must leave, for a field trip for instance, they can simply designate another person in the building to pick up the child in the event of an emergency.
Parents play a crucial role in the hiring process. Atlantis posts open positions and human resources sets up the interviews, but it is the parents who meet with the applicants and decide who they want to hire. Parents also fill out the performance evaluations for the daycare staff. One of the daycare workers acts as a manager, handling the scheduling and calling in subs to fill in when needed.
5th grade teacher Bethany Sylvia began using the service when she returned from maternity leave nearly two years ago.
“Returning to work was a lot easier knowing my daughter was here in the building with me,” Sylvia said. “Parents are encouraged to drop in during the day, especially breastfeeding mothers who are encouraged to go to the center to nurse their babies. I used to visit my daughter often when she was an infant, and that meant a lot to me.”
Not having to make an extra stop in the mornings and afternoons makes things easier as well.
A maximum of six children can be enrolled at any one time.
“I really like that this is a small center,” Sylvia said. “In a large center, you may have 10-15 kids in a classroom. Here, we are capped at six children. We know the staff well. They know our children well – they’re really like family.”
“I’ve had all three of my children go through the ACS daycare,” said Marchand. “They each received excellent care, small group and one-on-one attention, and learned to socialize at a young age. The ability to visit them during the day at work was invaluable to me. It allowed me to focus on my job yet still be actively involved with my kids during the day.”