HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Many parents struggle during the pandemic to work and juggle childcare while on the job. However, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing has partnered with a tech company to fill that gap.
Keneisha Deas linked up with both the founder of the company and MTM to learn more about the new program and its benefits.
TOOTRis Founder and CEO, Alessandra Lezama, based in San Diego, California said more than two million mothers from the pandemic alone, dropped out of the workforce due to a lack of childcare services.
However, Lezama said this issue happened long before COVID, and like everything else, the pandemic just exacerbated it. “Historically, the childcare system has been broken for many, many decades. So this is just not because of COVID.”
MTM Project General Manager Tony Dillon said the company is hiring people weekly. “This is a really strong opportunity for us to bring childcare to the areas and the demographics of which our team members are living.”
However, they still have 900 positions to fill. Dillon points out the struggle for both current and future employees.
“We’re hearing what area the struggles? Whether it’s transportation or whether it’s the schedule of things like that. But childcare continues to come up. We even had a survey of the existing members, and ‘What are some of your major challenges?’, and childcare was among the top of those challenges to our the workforce,” said Dillon.
Lezama explains how she connects with childcare providers. “What we do is we work through the licensing process of each state, to understand those programs that have already existing licenses, and then we have a team of specialists, our enrollment specialists, and then a provider specialist that establishes relationships for these providers.”
You may wonder, how does TOOTRis work?
“The employees can log into their account in TOOTris. They can search as many providers in their region by zip code, by special requirements etc. Once they locate the provider, they will have an enrollment process online and they will see immediately they are an employee of MTM, wonderful employer supporting employees, MTM contributes x dollars, they’re now as a parent out-of-pocket expense has x dollars, TOOTRis manages all that complexity on the backend and the provider receives 100% of their compensation,” said Lezama.
Dillon said they hope to get the ball rolling in May to sign up current and future employees.
The partnership with MTM and TOOTRis was started because of the Huntsville- Madison County Chamber of Commerce back in November of last year through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
VP of Workforce Lyndsay Ferguson, said childcare solutions have been a problem they wanted to address since 2019. "So that need has been clear for a long time, and one that Mazda Toyota Manufacturing with the size of their workforce and their growth in the region, has known would be an important piece of their long term solution, and so continuing to look for those solutions for our companies in this region has been the focus of the chamber for a couple of years."