July 5, 2008

Google Day Care: Situation Normal, All F*(@#-Upgraded

The NY Times' Joe Nocera writes about Google's first foray into the employee child care business. And by "writes about," I mean, "gives an 800-word, barely-credited recap of a whole cluster of reports, leaks, and firsthand accounts that Valleywag ran at least two weeks ago."

kinderplex.jpgThe looong and short of it are at Valleywag, but the gist is that Google's executive management group--at the insistence of co-founder Sergey Brin's sister-in-law, mother of four, and early Googler, Susan Wojcicki--decided to get rid of the Kinderplex, run by a more traditional outside childcare provider, in favor of their own expansive, Reggio Emilia-inspired development center with tons of space and ultra-low teacher-child ratios. And then they dropped the bomb of a 75% tuition increase on Google parents, who are now looking at nearly $90,000 year in pre-tax childcare expenditures for two kids. [Infant care jumps from $1574 to $2390/mo; preschoolers go from $1116 to $1710/mo.]

[My favorite detail is how the Palo Alto Architectural Review Board "said they hope the building when redone will be more colorful and playful than what Google's design shows." Apparently the public servants didn't get the memo that one's child's environment should be in warm sages and linens that "invoke (sic) a home more than going to a carnival." Or to the bright, primary-colored company whose winning IPO lottery ticket set one up in the first place.]

Parents who can can pay what they want for childcare, I got no problem with that. But Google's really handling this like a bunch of inept dickheads. Which just means that Google the company is getting all grown up.

On Day Care, Google Makes a Rare Fumble [nyt]
Google daycare now a luxury for Larry and Sergey's inner circle [valleywag]
Google's daycare debacle: the Kinderplex memos [valleywag]
Board OKs Google child center [pa daily news via valleywag]


Wow, that is expensive for 'company supported' daycare. We are new parents, and my company has on-site childcare in a secure facility with a low child to instructor ratio, and the monthly 'tuition' runs just under $1000/mo. I would think that if Google was going to tune up its childcare offering, they would plow more of their own money into it to make everybody (parent, child, HR) happy.

What really got my attention was the penultimate graf's call to arms: Lots of people think daycare should be like healthcare, a right, and freely given of society... I'm paraphrasing, but really? Where are these people, and can I go march with them? Or at least cry on their shoulders?

At my two employers over the past two years I'd say daycare is regarded the same way childhaving is: A frivolous choice picked by people hellbent on an alternative lifestyle. Some people spend all their money on shoes, some on ecstasy and poppers, and some on pampers and daycare. What makes that third group so special?

Having kids is considered an "alternative lifestyle"? Wow, and all these years I thought it was an annoying, but necessary function of life forms to procreate for the propagation of the species.

About the only thing I miss about Finland is the 200 euro per month daycare. Of course, the salaries are so low and the taxes so high that folks couldn't afford much more than that but when compared to $1,900 per month for a toddler in Boston (google folks outside of the valley don't get such perks) make one wistful for such perks as affordable daycare and parent leave from the job for a sick child, etc.

The irony of it is that in Emilia Reggio itself, fees are on a sliding scale, and no family pays more than about $140/month.


Of course, in Emilia Reggio, they have chosen to invest tax dollars into their children, and their results are impressive -- they have very high female participation in the workforce (over 60%) in a country noted for particularly low female participation.

Not only is the effect to increase economic development, but also the birthrate! Italy has both the lowest participation rate of women in the workforce as well as the lowest birthrate -- the two are inextricably tied, to the surprise of some. When you support women and children, you support all of society.


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