Planning considerations for this popular attendee-boosting trend

As families become more structurally diverse as the workforce has adapted to Covid and changing workforce demographics, the discussion surrounding the needs and benefits for onsite childcare at corporate meetings and events is growing louder. Lack of childcare options can decrease event attendance, hinder individual’s opportunities for visibility and networking and lead to gender and social inequality in the workplace.

Meeting professionals, event venues and childcare companies are stepping up to ensure childcare is embedded in the overall event strategy. This will benefit attendance volume, increase opportunities for women and families and overall set a foundation for a symbiotic relationship between career goals and home responsibilities. But planners need to consider everything from special needs to budget for a smooth operation.

Onsite Childcare ROI

Offering supervised time for children during an event can benefit attendees and event organizers. Families who want to extend a business trip into quality time together will be more inclined to make the trip. With more attendees, the meeting professionals, host venue and host client will all receive more attention, visibility and networking opportunities.

In the bigger picture, Forbes reports 45% of parents reporting lack of childcare resulting in absenteeism from work and/or events, causing a loss for the company. In addition, training a new employee to enter a position to attend events creates costs in hiring, onboarding, training and development. Onsite childcare will cost less than these strategies, reduce absenteeism from crucial events and promote the retainment of valued employees who can now attend required events.

Services like Jovie provide expert childcare professionals and tailor to the childcare needs. Edward Boucher, assistant manager at the San Francisco franchise of Jovie, a national childcare provider for corporate events, explains why onsite childcare is beneficial to attendees, meeting professionals and event hosts alike.

“You will definitely attain higher attendance if you can provide onsite childcare, certainly for big corporate events,” says Boucher. “Also, for smaller recurring board meetings. We find that if the attendees don’t have to work on finding their own childcare and they know it’s going to be onsite, you can definitely expect a higher attendance rate.”

Another plus is peace of mind quality care can offer. Onsite childcare will take the stress and worry off of attendees, while promoting a more focused and present environment when parents know their children are not only onsite and supervised, but engaged in dynamic activities.

“We will tailor our childcare staff to meet the needs of whatever the event might be. So it’s just broadening the spectrum of who can attend these events with all of those different options you have.”

– Edward Boucher, assistant manager of Jovie, San Francisco franchise

Want to visit the local food scene with your colleagues and unwind? You can be sure your child is having a dynamic travel experience of their own.

Childcare Promotes Equal Opportunities

While women are steadily increasing visibility in the corporate workforce, women are statistically the majority of primary caregivers to children, and motherhood is continually recognized as the primary factor in the gender pay gap. According to statistics published in Forbes in 2022, 64% of women leave their jobs before their first child due to lack of opportunities for affordable childcare. Considering these conditions, the issue of childcare became an even more heightened discussion for two reasons.

Women have been increasingly entering the workforce for decades and are valuable attendees at meetings, events and conferences for their contribution to their industry. This is especially true in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields that hold massive conferences and important contributors to the meetings industry. According to U.S. Department of Labor, women made up less than 8% of STEM fields in 1970 and now 26% in 2023. Women are 61% of social scientists, 46% of mathematics professionals and 45% of life and physical scientists. To ensure women professionals who may also have children continue to thrive in their fields and boost attendance for meeting professionals, onsite childcare for events encourages more women to be recognized in industries still considered to be dominated by men.

In contrast, when Covid forced government childcare centers and schools to close, requiring one parent to stay at home or find the means to acquire expensive private childcare. In a survey reported in the Harvard Business Review in 2021, 26% of women who left their positions or became otherwise unemployed cited lack of childcare as the reason. This has led to a significant decrease of women in the workforce than it has been in previous decades and therefore less attendance and ROI for events.

Being seen and networking is an important aspect of any industry when pursuing professional vertical mobility and corporate events are the mecca of endless opportunities to meet that right person, catch that great break or pitch an original idea. To ensure equal opportunity for all employees who are potential attendees and valuable assets to their companies, onsite childcare provides a strategy for working mothers to be completely present and professional at the event while knowing their child is near and safe. This will encourage overall inclusion in the workplace, increase attendance for meeting professionals, promote visibility for the company hosting the event and improve ROI for all involved.

Meaningful Experiences for Kids and Adults

When arranging childcare for events, it is important for attendees to feel as though their children will be cared for and engaged so parents are not fretting about the safety or well-being of their child as they focus on their work responsibilities. This is especially crucial when dealing with children with special needs, dietary restrictions, language barriers, and other areas that require specially trained childcare experts. Corporate event childcare providers work closely with the needs of each individual child and guarantee services that will be as enjoyable of an experience for the children as the adults are having at the event.

“We will tailor our own staff to meet the needs of whatever the event might be,” says Boucher. “So it’s just broadening the spectrum of who can attend these events with all of those different options that you have.”

Tailored Activities

Every family has their own ways of operating when it comes to childcare. Whether it be nutritional regiments, nap time schedules, religious practices or any combination of the above, hiring a childcare service that has a diverse staff skilled in many different beyond the safety of the child—with individualized care that is an extension to the schedules and practices they are familiar with at home.

When parents are leaving their child with a childcare provider, they want to feel secure in the knowledge that not only is their child safe but will be interacted with and engaged in a way that is accessible and familiar to them. This can sometimes mean hiring a specific staff that will cater to the requests of the meeting professional as they speak with their team about preferences for the onsite childcare. Tailoring childcare staff to fit language and cultural needs is essential for the goal of diversity and inclusion. Boucher says his team has sent all Spanish speaking staff, staff with lots of experience in special needs childcare and has even gotten involved with training their staff in how to provide care for children in special circumstances, such as foster children.

Read MoreThe Diversity Among Us

Budget Considerations

As meeting professionals are working with clients who are considering onsite childcare for a meeting or event, there are different factors that will be the key elements in overall costs.

Corporate childcare professional Mike Whittle, general manager of Corporate Kids Events, explains key factors meeting professionals will have to research as they meet the needs of their clients requesting onsite childcare.

Room and Meal Cost

The conference room/meeting room the children will be supervised in is the obvious cost when planning onsite childcare. When working with the event venue to accommodate the children, close access to bathrooms and to the room the parents will be in is something to discuss. Whittle says these are topics meeting professionals or childcare services may not always be in control of, therefore, dealing with the hotels directly may be the best avenue.

“Oftentimes, we’re asked if we can provide meals,” says Whittle. “As much as we would like to, we’re not obviously permitted to do so. (Meeting professionals) will have to go through the hotels. So that’s a big cost.” Also to be considered when thinking about costs for meal planning are the potential needs for microwaves or refrigerators. Whittle says these appliances can sometimes be borrowed from the venue or the catering company, but meeting professionals should make sure that they are secured and there can be a cost involved.


Depending on what type of entertainment the client is requesting for the children, audio/visual equipment and services may be needed. Whether that be a microphone for the childcare providers to drive activities for the children, a projector to screen movies or speakers to play music, AV professionals will have to be just as much involved in the onsite childcare as they are in the main event.

Staffing Location

If you have a large group of children, children with special needs or both, childcare providers specializing in these areas may not be local and therefore will have to travel to work the event which will be an extra cost for the client. Travel, lodging and parking will all be a cost from childcare services should the event require employees from other regions.

Read More: Hospitality and Humanity Meet to Solve Hotel Staffing Crisis

“We gauge where our managers are located and pick the right person for the job.”

Tips for Onsite Childcare

woman on laptopBuild Childcare into the Event Strategy Infrastructure

Just as you would have insurance policies for natural disasters, staffing emergencies, venue fallouts, etc., make childcare a part of the budget. Just as you would for any other part of the event, speak with the childcare provider service about backup plans and special requests.

Involve Women and Mothers

As professional women are a large part of the meetings and events industry, including mothers and potential mothers in meetings regarding planning, strategies and budgets for a more informed blueprint when it comes to what families may need/want for onsite childcare at corporate events. Ask attendees what they want and need to gauge uptake.

Communicate With the Hotel

Some things as simple as room locations and bathroom accessibility can make a huge difference in the “worry-free” childcare attending parents want to have. For instance, where is the nearest bathroom? Does the child have to walk past the room their parent(s) is in to access the bathroom? That runs the risk of a meltdown.

Budget Onsite Childcare and Adult Events Similarly

Meeting professionals know how to budget for an adult event—the catering, the potential need for special needs inclusion, the AV cost, etc. Whittle says treating the budget for onsite childcare should be relatively easy for meeting professionals to understand.

“It’s kind of a mixed bag, right? The amount of kids, the age range of those kids, the hours, the location of the event…it’s pretty comparable to what (meeting professionals) experience in terms of the adults.”

Childcare for Event Staff

A reliable and present staff is necessary for a professionally executed corporate event. It is just as important to consider the event and venue staff so they can perform their tasks worry-free. A 2020 publication from the World Health Organization reported on job losses in the service industry in the United States. The service industry, a largely women-dominated industry, includes a large proportion of single mothers. When Covid devastated the events industry, mothers working in positions with high turnover rate as service and hospitality staff were hit hard, especially single mothers with no access to childcare.

According to the report: “job losses among single mothers were as follows: waitresses (82%), cleaners (72%), cooks (58%), and personal care aide (33%).” As important as it is for the attendees to be able to enjoy the event, network and be visible in her industry, it is equally important for the mothers of the service industry to have access to the same resources of onsite and backup childcare. There is an opportunity here for meeting profession als and event venues to create Corporate Social Responsibility to create ongoing programs that ensure onsite childcare is available for everyone involved in events – from the mothers who are the CEOs and keynote speakers to the line cooks and the cleaning staff.

This article appears in the March 2024 issue. You can subscribe to the magazine here.