Biz4Kids Program History
The Whipple Foundation sponsored the Douglas County Business Leaders’ Summit on Early Childhood Investment. The summit featured speeches from Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber; Ross Thompson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis; and Rob Grunewald, Associate Economist at The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
The Whipple Foundation announced a grant of $100,000 to create a local program that engages business leaders in efforts which benefit children aged zero to five, and ultimately benefit the local economy and community. A Business Champions group of 30 business and community leaders was established.
The Business Champions set the program goals of increasing access to high-quality childcare, creating public education campaigns on the importance early childhood education, and encouraging employers to adopt Family Friendly Workplace Practices. The group proposed a recognition program of organizations that support the Business Champions’ established goals.
A Business Champions leadership team was formed with additional funding from The Ford Family Foundation. Their goal was to develop and implement the recognition program.
The core of the recognition program was finalized. The leadership team started developing the assessment to determine eligibility for recognition.
The Whipple Foundation and The Ford Family Foundation funded a county-wide survey performed by DHM Research. The survey was conducted to determine employers’ and employees’ perceptions on the importance of early childhood education, family-friendly policies, and whether Douglas County is a good place to raise children.
DHM Research finalized and published the survey report. The results informed the leadership group on which FFWPs are most important to employees, which are most feasible to local businesses, and local organizations’ level of interest in enhancing early childhood education opportunities in the area. Douglas Education Service District (ESD) takes over program management of Business Champions for Kids.
Douglas ESD hires a dedicated program coordinator to manage the Biz4Kids program. The recognition assessment was finalized with additional funding from The Whipple Foundation. Processes for conducting assessments, reporting results, communicating results, and implementing action plans were developed.
Douglas ESD piloted the assessment and recognition program. The assessment was adjusted, and three more organizations were invited to pilot the program: i.e. Engineering, The Ford Family Foundation, and Umpqua Dairy. Improvements were made to the program based on feedback from the participating organizations.
The assessments for the first four pilot organizations were finalized and published. The next three pilot organizations were identified: YMCA of Douglas County, Douglas ESD: Jackson County, and Roseburg Forest Products. Douglas ESD met with the second pilot group to coordinate employer and employee surveys.
The second pilot was put on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A support specialist was hired in the fourth quarter to assist with restarting the program. Program policies, procedures, and supporting documentation were updated. A relaunch of the pilot program was scheduled for 2022.
The Business Champions for Kids launched The Best Place for Working Parents® Douglas County, a local partner of The Best Place for Working Parents® national initiative. A new online and confidential assessment is available to employers that evaluates 10 research-backed policies that are proven to benefit working parents and businesses’ bottom line.