New Company Aims To Reduce Employees’ Stress About Child, Parent Care


A new business, co-founded by a township woman, hopes to reduce employee’s stress about child and parent care.

Providing employees of small- and medium-sized business with peace of mind when emergencies strike is the mission of a new company co-founded by a township woman.

Creative Backup Care Options co-founder and CEO, Bernadette Fusaro, and her Colorado-based partner, Tracy Cutler, are parlaying their experience in the industry to bring a backup care benefit to businesses on both coasts.

Backup care kicks in when an employee needs help caring for a sick child or parent while they are at work, Fusaro said.

“It’s temporary care for when an employee’s dependent care falls through,” she said. “So for example, if an employee has a child and the child gets sick, the employee has to scramble around for somebody to watch their child because the employee has to be at work. That’s a typical kind of use for it.”

“Also, when there are school holidays, during the summer when camps are closed, there are predictable times when child care is needed,” she said.

The service is offered as an employee benefit, much like health care, Fusaro said. When companies sign up, Fusaro and Cutler determine a plan and cost that works for the company.

Typically, she said, companies sign up for 100 hours of backup care a year per employee.

“That’s enough so that employees’ major issues are covered,” she said. “If a company has fewer hours than that, they’ll get less usage because employees will hold on to their hours, figuring they might need them later on.”

Creative Backup Care is the benefit facilitator, it does not provide the care, she said. The company will contract with child care centers, home health care aides and centers and other providers, such as nannies, who will then be brought in as needed.

“We vet to the highest quality standards,” Fusaro said. “All providers have to be licensed. We’ll ask to see their evaluation reports. We’ll also evaluate each case as it goes along.”

“When an employee has a care occurrence, they get sent an evaluation and they will let us know how that care went,” she said.

Employees who don’t have family or friends nearby can also use the backup care for themselves, she said.

Fusaro said companies who sign up for the benefit typically continue with it, mainly because they find it cost-efficient.

“The companies that do have it do see a return on investment,” she said. “And once they offer it to their employees, they don’t take it away because they recoup their investment every time an employee comes to work.”

The program also reduces the stress employees may feel when they’re presented with the choice of caring for a sick child or parent or going to work.

Companies can also use the benefit as a recruitment tool, Fusaro said.

Once a company signs on, Fusaro said, she will roll out the program to its employees. Seminars are held, and employees can use the Creative Backup Care’s Web site to register.

Fusaro has experience with backup care on both ends of the business. As a human resources manager for Merril Lynch, she brought the program in to that company, and she sold it to business when she worked for its creator, Colorado-based Work Options Group.

That’s also where she met her future partner.

“The beauty is that her expertise is in operations, she ran the call center and provider relations,” Fusaro said of Cutler. “I have the client side, because I worked in HR and I was an account manager. We have both ends of the spectrum.”

They do have competitors, mostly larger corporations which offer many different benefit programs, Fusaro said.

“The competitors we have are very large, and they typically go after the big-money companies,” she said. “My partner and I decided there’s still a big market out there for the smaller to mid-sized companies that could really use this benefit.”

Her competition’s prices are also “much higher,” she said.

“We’re not looking to be a big conglomerate, we’re just looking to bring the benefit to as many people as possible,” she said.

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