The more Kimberly Hubbard trusts you, the worse your work hours will be. The owner of a 24-hour child-care center in Milwaukee, Hubbard assigns only her best employees to overnight care. "The ones that have been with me longest have the worst shift," she says with a laugh.
For most mothers, the question of whether child-care centers stay open after dark isn't an issue. But for people making the transition from welfare to work or holding multiple jobs, things are different. Low-income parents often work hourly jobs that don't include child-care benefits. If relatives or friends can't babysit, parents are left with the impossible choice of not working or leaving their children alone.
That's the problem Hubbard, 47, a mother of two, noticed during her first pregnancy 21 years ago, when, as a manager at Goodwill Industries, she began looking into child care. Unimpressed by her options, she left work to start her own service, Bessie's Kiddie Kollege, one of the first in Milwaukee to be open 24 hours. "Someone needed to provide that care," Hubbard says.
Once she provided it, parents responded. Today there are 127 all-hours centers in Milwaukee, a city in which demand is high as parents sign on to Wisconsin's welfare-to-work program. Hubbard not only helps those parents but, through an advocacy group she co-founded, has also assisted other entrepreneurs hoping to open similar centers.
Over the past two decades, all-hours facilities have opened in most major U.S. cities, including Dallas, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Few people, however, have had Hubbard's impact, though she sees nothing particularly heroic in her work. "We're dealing with children," she says, "and children's lives."
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