I noticed both candidates say they wanted to do something to help working families with kids. It struck my heart and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just go ahead and do it myself?’ So I did.
Oklahoma City, OK (PRWEB) November 29, 2016
As a young mother whose child has life-threatening food allergies, Heather Koontz of Oklahoma City worries daily about child care for her 17-month-old son, Russell. She and her husband, Byron, need child care that is equipped to handle kids with food allergies, but it comes at a higher price.
Thanks to a new benefit just announced by her employer, Oklahoma City-based Express Employment Professionals, the Koontz family will receive as much as $5,000 to help them pay for their child care needs.
“Russell’s food allergies require constant monitoring and constant care,” Heather said. “This news is a big deal for my family. For me, it gives me hope that my son will be in a safer, healthier place because I can now afford higher quality care for him, and I don’t have to worry every month that we will have outrageous medical costs. We can store the extra income for the extremely pricy EpiPens.”
The Koontz family is not alone in facing the high price of dependent care.
According to Child Care Aware of America, the annual cost of infant care in Oklahoma is $6,788 per child. Oklahoma families on average pay 9.8 percent of the household income for child care, compared to a single parent who pays nearly a third, 32.9 percent. Additionally, the organization reports that annual infant care in the Sooner state costs nearly as much as a year of public college tuition.
With child care and dependent care costs skyrocketing, Heather teared up when she heard that the CEO of the company she works for came up with the plan to help offset these costs for his employees.
Bob Funk Announces Generous Program
Express CEO and chairman of the board, Bob Funk, told his employees earlier this month about his plan to help offset the rising cost of raising children by offering regular full-time corporate employees up to $5,000 per dependent annually to help pay for dependent care services.
“This program could be a life changer for so many people who work hard and need a little extra help,” Funk said. “Child care is expensive and it is becoming more and more difficult for parents, especially single parents, to keep up with these costs. We want to ease that financial burden for our employees.”
Express currently offers headquarters employees a flexible spending account (FSA) where they can put money into the account for child care on a pre-tax basis. This program will work like the FSA, where the employee will submit receipts for reimbursement, however, Express will cover the cost. A family with three children under age 13, for example, could gain as much as $15,000 to help them pay for their child care needs.
“As I watched the Presidential campaign,” Funk said, “I noticed both candidates say they wanted to do something to help working families with kids. It struck my heart and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just go ahead and do it myself?’ So I did.”
“I’m particularly concerned of how difficult working and raising a family can be for a single parent. They need a job, but they don’t have a spouse to help take care of their child, and child care is expensive. My hope is that this will help make their life a little bit easier.”
No Other Company in the State Offers This Type of Plan
“Our HR staff called about 80 small, medium and large companies in Oklahoma and to our knowledge, no other company in the state provides this type of plan,” Funk said. “Most companies we talked to offer child care under the pre-tax cafeteria plan and a couple of employers offer on-site daycare.”
“The real cost of dependent care is much greater than the current tax code permits on a pre-tax basis,” said Jerry Edwards of Precision Administrators, Inc., who will be administering this innovative benefit program. “In our 39 years of administering benefits, I must say this is cutting-edge both from an employee benefit perspective and from a perspective of simply caring for employees and expressing an earnest desire to provide assistance over and above the recognized benefit found in today’s Cafeteria Plan legislation.”
The $5,000 per child benefit is generous, even by national standards.
“We have incredible team members at our international headquarters helping ensure our franchisees are successful in matching job seekers and employers,” Funk said. “As a staffing company, we know how difficult it is to attract and retain valuable employees. This benefit is another way we can show value to our corporate employees; another way we can take care of our Express family.”
Express has more than 770 offices in the U.S., Canada and South Africa and is committed to the vision of helping as many people as possible find good jobs by helping as many clients as possible find good people. The international headquarters is based in Oklahoma City and employs 247 staff members.
"Bob has created a culture of caring and family at Express,” said Sam Fox, director of compensation and benefits at Express. “His heart was heavy about how expensive child care is and he wanted to do something about it for his employees. So he did.”
“Honestly, it could change lives, mine included,” Koontz said. “Young people don’t have copious amounts of money, and I was thinking of other people in tight financial situations and how this benefit is going to help them. I think it shows that Bob means what he says when he talks about Express being an avenue of hope for people. He really does want to help people and give them hope.”
Health Check Screening Program
In addition to offering the dependent care program, the staffing company announced a new health check screening program that includes an annual full body scan for headquarters employees age 45 and older, as well as virtual colonoscopies for employees age 50 and older every five years.
Express Employment Professionals has a long-term goal to put a million people to work annually. With the international headquarters based in Oklahoma City, Express put a record 500,002 people to work in 2015 in a variety of industries. Express provides expertise in evaluation hire, temporary staffing, professional search and human resources.
For more information or to schedule an interview with Bob Funk or Heather Koontz, contact:
Sherry Kast, APR
Director of Corporate Communications and PR
Express Employment Professionals
Office: (405) 840-5000 or Cell: (405) 496-9860