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How one SLO business is helping solve the child care challenge for its employees

Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-11 23:25:42-05

The lack of childcare for parents in San Luis Obispo County is forcing some to put their careers on hold.

However, one local business found a way to bridge the gap and offers their employees a true work-life balance and answer to the childcare crisis.

A day at the office for Trust Automation employees might not be the norm.

"A parade or they'll do a lemonade stand sale or they'll do a bake sale or they'll do something that kind of engages you and pulls you out of your day-to-day grind," said Ty Safreno, Trust Automation CEO.

But the employees aren't the ones behind the counter or leading the parade. Instead, it's their children.

Trust Automation in San Luis Obispo built its own on-site day care center to help employees who struggle with finding good and affordable child care.

"If you can take one of the big stresses off of people's lives and reduce it, which is taking care of their children in a way that they're proud of and that they're comfortable with, that's a huge benefit for them and for me it allows me to know we're doing the right thing," Safreno said.

Ty and Trudie Safreno are the owners of Trust Automation. When the couple had their children, they experienced firsthand how challenging it was to find child care here on the Central Coast.

Parents are battling a two-pronged problem.

One is the shrinking number of providers. The other is money.

According to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network, the average annual cost for a baby in a licensed center in San Luis Obispo County is just under $15,000 a year.

Ty and Trudie quickly found out they weren't the only ones running into roadblocks.

"We realized our own employees were having the same challenges, being caught with a late babysitter or whatever it may have been, so we felt that it was a really good need to have our own center," said Trudie Safreno, Trust Automation CFO.

Then came the Trust Children's Center, now open for employees and the community for almost four years, with 35 children in attendance.

It's a place that offers infant and toddler programs, preschool, and full-time teachers who receive benefits such as retirement, health insurance, and paid vacation.

The center is just walking distance from employees' offices, so spending time with their children can become part of the everyday workday -- something employees can't put a price on.

"Children are your prized possessions as a parent, so to be able to bring your children to a trusted place and to also have it be so close and a part of your work that you can come visit anytime throughout the day, I would say that's priceless," said Sarah Davis, Trust Children's Center Director.

The Safrenos say seeing their idea come to life and knowing they are helping their workers find solutions to the child care problem has been an amazing and rewarding experience.

"Their interaction with their children on a daily basis, I think that's where I get my fulfillment, is being able to know that they can come, their children are safe, they can come pick them up and visit with them at anytime," Trudie said.

"It's one of the things that make you sleep at night and go to bed being okay with the world," Ty said.

Trust Automation employees receive priority enrollment for their children at Trust Children's Center, but children of non-employees are also accepted. Trust Automation employees also get a significant discount ranging between $285 and $415 per month.

To learn more about Trust Children's Center, click here.

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