How a small-town coffee company solved its child care crisis

How a small-town coffee company solved its child care crisis

Red Rooster Coffee offers on-site child care for its employees

Red Rooster Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster based in Floyd, Virginia, faced a growing problem in 2018. Several of its employees, including co-owner Rose McCutchan, were pregnant or had small children. They all wanted to stay in the workforce and they all needed child care.

But in Floyd, as in other rural communities, child care is hard to find. Virginia does not have enough child care providers to serve the number of children who need care, according to a report issued by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission in mid-October 2023. When child care is unavailable or unaffordable, parents are more likely to reduce their work hours, change jobs or drop out of the workforce altogether, the report said.

The Red Rooster Coffee owners were not going to let that happen. They decided to open their own child care center for their employees, as part of their mission to provide a livelihood and a fulfilling work life for their staff.

Yellow Hen: a child care center with a difference

The child care center, named Yellow Hen, is attached to Red Rooster Coffee’s roastery and cafe in downtown Floyd. It serves 48 employees and their children, from infants to 12-year-olds, for just $2 per hour. The center is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, and offers a variety of activities and programs for the children, such as arts and crafts, music, yoga, gardening, and field trips.

How a small-town coffee company solved its child care crisis

The center is staffed by qualified and experienced teachers, who follow a curriculum based on the Reggio Emilia approach, which emphasizes child-led learning, creativity, and collaboration. The center also partners with local organizations, such as the Floyd Center for the Arts, the Floyd County Library, and the Blue Mountain School, to provide enriching experiences for the children.

The center is licensed by the Virginia Department of Social Services and follows all the health and safety guidelines and regulations. The center also receives funding and support from the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, the United Way of Roanoke Valley, and the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.

The benefits of on-site child care for employees and employers

The employees of Red Rooster Coffee are thrilled with the child care center, which has made their lives easier and happier. They say they are more productive, less stressed, and more loyal to the company. They also appreciate the opportunity to spend time with their children during breaks and lunch hours, and to bond with other parents and co-workers.

The owners of Red Rooster Coffee are also happy with the child care center, which has improved their retention, recruitment, and reputation. They say they have seen a decrease in turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness, and an increase in morale, teamwork, and customer satisfaction. They also say they have gained a competitive edge in the coffee industry, and have received positive feedback from their customers and community.

The child care center is not only a benefit for the employees and employers, but also for the children, who are exposed to a stimulating and diverse environment, where they can learn, play, and grow. The center also contributes to the economic and social development of Floyd, a small town of about 450 people, located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

A model for other rural businesses and communities

Red Rooster Coffee is not the only rural business that has recognized the need and value of on-site child care. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are other examples of rural employers that have established or supported child care centers for their workers, such as Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative in Vermont, Dakota Growers Pasta Company, a food manufacturer in North Dakota, and Hormel Foods, a meat processor in Minnesota.

These employers have realized that providing child care is not only a social responsibility, but also a smart business strategy, that can help them attract and retain talent, increase productivity and profitability, and enhance their brand and reputation. They have also realized that providing child care can help them address the challenges and opportunities of rural development, such as population decline, workforce shortage, economic diversification, and community engagement.

Red Rooster Coffee and its child care center, Yellow Hen, are a model for other rural businesses and communities that want to create a win-win situation for their employees, customers, and stakeholders. They are a testament to the power and potential of rural innovation, collaboration, and resilience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *