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Airports compete to offer best daycare benefits in race to hire workers

Some airport directors had discussed expanding their child care offerings before the pandemic, but “it has now become a larger focus,” said ACI-NA’s Russo.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, which in the 1960s offered an in-terminal nursery so parents could dine or shop kid-free before boarding flights, is now in the final design phase of a child care facility for employees.

“Businesses at Sky Harbor continue to have challenges hiring and retaining staff,” said Matthew Heil, deputy aviation director for the city of Phoenix. Developing on-site child care, coupled with a $4 million pool of city and federal funds to help workers find care locally, “allows us to support those people with children in a direct way,” he said.

When my children were young, I was blessed to have stable, safe, dependable child care … I’d like to see that happen at CVG.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport CEO Candace McGraw

Denver International Airport is currently conducting a child care needs assessment, Deputy Chief of Staff Andrea Albo said. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which is home to cargo hubs for DHL and Amazon, is looking into developing on-site or nearby child care facilities, too.

“When my children were young, I was blessed to have stable, safe, dependable child care, and I know what a difference it can make,” airport CEO Candace McGraw said. “I’d like to see that happen at CVG.”

KinderCare said several major carriers, including American Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines, provide tuition credits at its facilities. Delta Air Lines said it offers up to 25 days a year of subsidized child care for situations like school closures and family emergencies. But many airport workers have few such benefits, and while some U.S. airports have experimented with child care services for decades, only a handful of programs still exist.

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