Springdale-based Tyson Foods said Tuesday (Dec. 21) it plans to build an on-site childcare and learning facility at its new Humboldt, Tenn., poultry processing plant. This comes on the heels of another program underway in Tyson’s beef packing plant located in Amarillo, Texas.
The $3.5 million Humboldt facility, expected to be operational in 2023, will support up to 100 children, five years of age and younger, and employ a staff of 18. Called Tyson Tykes, it will be operated as an early childhood learning center by a third-party provider, Kindercare. The service will also be subsidized by the company to lower the cost for Tyson employees.
The Center for American Progress reports the national average cost of care for one child in a center is roughly $10,000 per year and exceeds what most families can afford to pay. Research also shows children enrolled in early childhood education programs have greater high school graduation rates, increased IQ scores, higher career earnings and are less likely to commit a crime as they enter adulthood, according to the report.
“For nearly a century, ‘care’ has been at the heart of Tyson culture,” said John R. Tyson, chief sustainability officer of Tyson Foods. “These childcare pilots reflect that culture as well as our goal of becoming the most sought-after place to work. Over the past few months, as part of our efforts to recruit and retain frontline team members, we’ve also piloted more flexible work hours, raised wages and benefits, provided $50 million in year-end bonuses and in January, will start providing paid sick leave.”
Tyson said the efforts are helping improve the company worker recruiting and retention rates. CEO Donnie King said recently that worker attendance in its manufacturing facilities is better than it has been since the pandemic began.
Tyson’s Humboldt complex, which includes a processing plant, hatchery and feed mill, has a staff of more than 1,000 people but is expected to employ 1,500 by early 2024. Tyson’s beef plant in Amarillo employs more than 4,000 workers. The company has awarded about $400,000 to the Wesley Community Center and Maverick Boys and Girls Club of Amarillo to refurbish their facilities to accommodate the children of Tyson Foods employees. The money will help provide transportation, security, commercial refrigerators, cots and tutoring. Each facility will support up to 40 children and Tyson expects to invest close to $500,000 to cover tuition for employees participating in the program.
Tyson has said it will continue to look for other opportunities to help employees with childcare options in those areas where those resources are limited.