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Keysight Technologies plans to build on-site child care for workers, public

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Santa Rosa-based Keysight Technologies Inc. will soon break ground on a new on-site child care center for its employees and the public at its Fountaingrove campus, the company announced Wednesday.

The facility is scheduled to open in August and is expected to add 100 child care slots to the area. Company officials said the facility will play a role in the electronics test and measurement firm’s employee retention and recruitment plans.

Those plans call for the site to offer early education and care for infants, preschool and children up to age 12 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. It will be overseen by the employer-sponsored child care firm Bright Horizons, based in Massachusetts. Keysight will provide space and finance the remodeling and furnishings at the facility.

“Keysight fully understands that offering on-site child care is important to attracting and retaining the best talent in the North Bay and surrounding areas,” Hamish Gray, Keysight senior vice president, stated in the announcement. “Ron Nersesian, chairman, president and CEO of Keysight was a driving force behind this investment decision, which is reflective of the company’s commitment to our employees and to all of Sonoma County.”

Santa Rosa Metro Chamber has been working with the city of Santa Rosa, major employers and community partners to increase access to quality child care and education in the county, according to the announcement.

“High quality, affordable and accessible child care has a significant impact on the economic growth and competitiveness of companies in our region, and is vital in supporting working families,” said Ananda Sweet, vice president of public policy and workforce development with the chamber.

On average, half of working parents miss over eight days of work due to child care issues, and 80% of parents would leave one job for another that provides child care, based on a Care.com report Sweet cited. Businesses typically see up to and beyond a 100% return on investment from tax savings, increased retention and productivity, and decreased absenteeism, according to FastCompany.com.

Sweet said every $1 invested in high-quality early childhood education programs can lead to $16 back in the pockets of community members from higher wages later in life, increased tax revenue, more efficient public schools, improved personal and public health, less crime, and more educated skilled workers, according to a study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The chamber conducted research for almost two years, funded by the First 5 Commission of Sonoma County, involving interviews with companies across the country that have on-site child care, collecting provider information and assessing a range of models and processes as well as the return on investment in child care.

There are no employer supported child care centers in the region that the Metro Chamber could identify. However, the 4C’s of Sonoma County found that there were 166 day care centers, 114 license-exempt centers, and 327 licensed family child care providers in its 2019 survey.

As of December 20, 2019, some 1,326 children were on a wait list. Since 2012, the number of child care homes in the county has declined by 21% representing a loss of 295 providers.

The city of Santa Rosa has eliminated or reduced fees, and reduced review authority, to encourage child care facility operations. Planning application fees are refunding the applicant following evidence that the facility has been opened and complies with requirements for project approval. Most child care facilities and family home day care operations are permitted.

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