Aerospace giant TRW Inc. launched one of its biggest satellite operations Monday--dedicating a new child-care facility touted as one of the largest employee day-care centers in the nation.
With fanfare usually associated with the completion of one of the Redondo Beach firm's multimillion-dollar defense contracts, company officials formally dedicated the 17,000-square-foot center, which opened in late August and already has 181 infants, toddlers and preschoolers enrolled.
In keeping with the company's mission, TRW employees have named the center the Launching Pad.
The center provides 13 classrooms for children's activities, as well as separate outdoor areas designed specifically for different age groups. The center will be able to accommodate more than 200 children of TRW employees by next year, a fact that company officials plan to point out when recruiting top-flight physicists, computer experts and engineers.
"This will definitely differentiate us from other companies," said Betsy Bosak, the center's project manager. "It makes a world of difference to employees when they know they just have to walk across a courtyard to see their child. We think it's a big advantage."
With more than 14,000 employees at TRW's Space & Defense Division, however, the center won't be large enough to handle all of the requests of workers who want to place their preschoolers in the center. The company used a lottery system to pick its current crop of students, and the present waiting list includes more than 60 families. The company will hold one lottery each year.
"I feel very fortunate to have been selected because it's a great facility," said Gregory Anderson, a computer technician whose 4-year-old son attends the center. "They spared no expense on the construction and security is never going to be a problem at TRW."
Planning for the $2-million center began in 1988 when an employee review committee recommended an on-site day-care facility to top executives. TRW is the first aerospace company in Los Angeles to offer on-site day care, but child-care consultants have predicted that more large companies will follow suit because day care is considered such a critical issue in the workplace.
The center is being run by Children's Discovery Centers of America, one of the country's largest day-care providers. Company officials say they charge a market rate for TRW employees, between $95 and $125 per week, depending on the age of the children.
"This is a learning experience for all of us because most of us have never worked at an on-site day-care center," said preschool teacher Jerry Kelly. "There's more parent involvement here and we're still finding uses for a brand-new facility."
TRW officials said they considered the "competitive edge" they would gain over other aerospace firms by providing on-site day care but said the new center was a "logical extension" of after-school programs the company already had in place.
TRW President Ed Dunford likened the center opening to the early days of the aerospace program when civilian firms lined up for the race to launch the first vehicles into space.