Amid a childcare crisis, a Vermont ski resort is offering its workers free on-the-site care. Smugglers’ Notch employees will be able to drop off their young ones at the Treasures Child Care Center. Kids at the center range from 6 weeks to 3 years old. Nap rooms, toys, and playgrounds are just a few of the amenities at the center.

[Harley Johnson/Children Programs Director, Smuggler’s Notch] 

“It’s not just about the families who come here on vacation but the families who work here,” said Harley Johnson, Children Programs Director at Smugglers’ Notch. Many companies have been facing staffing shortages and Johnson believes childcare is partly to blame. 

“Childcare is expensive and we’ve found over the years that we’ve had employees putting their entire paycheck to childcare,” said Johnson. “Why am I working just to pay for my childcare?”

“Historically people are unable to find work because of family challenges and it’s disproportionally women,” said Shelly Citron, Human Resource Director at Smugglers’ Notch.

Becca Bishop, a Smugglers’ Notch employee was one of these women. The challenges of childcare made her resort to being a stay-at-home mother. “Too many obstacles in terms of affording it, making sure the provider themselves were good and paid attention to the kids as well,” said Bishop. “I just kept them at home because I thought that was the safest bet.” 

Now, she leaves her kid at the Treasures Child Care Center. “That’s the main reason I applied here, there was childcare on the premise.” She is thankful for its convenience. “I know of other moms that have their kids at Treasure that have younger babies who are still breastfeeding. They can take time out of their day to swing up and breastfeed their kids and go to work.”  

Aly Richards, the CEO of Let’s Grow Kids, an organization focused on fighting childcare challenges, is happy to hear about Smugglers’ Notch and believes more systematic changes are needed. “No family pays more than 10% of their house income on childcare for affordability and early educators make a wage and benefits that are similar to peers in other fields with similar credentials.”   

Richards believes help is on the way and was happy to see a childcare law passed last year from the Vermont legislators aimed at making childcare more accessible and affordable.

The free childcare services will go into effect immediately for existing Smugglers’ Notch employees, and one Smugglers’ Notch official says she hopes to see more companies in Vermont offer childcare services.