While the term “corporate childcare” may seem like a misnomer to some, others will associate this word with a service that ensures that their children are properly cared for as they pursue their careers. As a result, these organizations are often far more compassionate than their professional image might suggest. Recently, the owners of the largest corporate childcare company in New Zealand proved this by donating their entire operation to charity.
Owned by the Wright family trust, Kidicorp has taken a number of different directions over the course of the last few years: for example, the Wrights listed the company through a reverse takeover in 2003, only to buy the company back in 2007 for $42 million. Despite these changes, however, Kidicorp has remained a fairly profitable venture in New Zealand, running 256 childcare centers throughout the country under several brand names, including Top Kids, ABC, First Steps and Edukids. In total, the company cares for about 19,000 children and employs more than 4,800 people.
However, Wayne and Chloe Wright recently transferred the company to the Wright Family Foundation, which the family registered as a charity in August 2014, announcing that they hoped the move would help make a difference in the lives of New Zealand’s children.
“We were very successful financially younger in life and money has never been of much interest to us,” Wayne Wright told Stuff. “We’re just interested in making a difference. There’s not too many people that have that view – in fact I’m regularly surprised at the way people want to hang on to their money. We’re just not like that.”
As part of the change, Kidicorp has been renamed Best Start Educare. Owned by a registered charity, the organization will now be tax-exempt.
In recent years, the Wrights have made a number of comments about the difficulties of running a childcare-focused business.
“It’s just an impossible situation,” Wayne Wright told the Sunday Star Times.”You can’t satisfy parents who want to hold fee costs, the teachers who want a raise and the shareholders that want a dividend. That’s why I reprivatised it. We just couldn’t survive in that scenario.”
Interestingly, the company seems to have disregarded a growing trend in corporate childcare solutions: onsite childcare for employers, in which businesses collaborate with licensed child care organizations to keep prices affordable for parents while providing reliable childcare at the work site. In the United States, this option has drawn praise from parents and childcare advocates alike, who note that it offers benefits to both families and their employers.
“Recently, one of our sponsors, Vertex Inc., a privately held, global company was recognized as “The Top Place to Work in Philadelphia” as voted on by the employees,” says Elaine Errico, Hildebrandt Learning Centers, LLC. “One of the major benefits touted to their employees is their onsite child care center. This onsite center, VerTykes, has been in existence since 2001 and the enrollment is as robust as it can be proving there is a need and desire for employees to have their children close to their workplace.”
Chloe Wright has stated that moving the ownership into a charitable foundation was a natural progression for the company. Meanwhile, the couple has commented that the change will allow them to maintain quality and a community-centric approach they believe is responsible for their company’s success.