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While many young professional couples struggle with child care issues, two geographically distant law firms have instituted a policy that will significantly ease this burden on their employees. Baker Botts in Houston has added a new employee benefit that will ease some stress on working parents’ “backup” day care. It’s for those times when a nanny gets sick, a regular day care center is closed or a stay-at-home father has jury duty, says Kelly Rose, a corporate securities partner who negotiated a contract with ChildrenFirst. The company is opening its first backup care center in Houston. The firm will pay for up to 20 days per year per family at a center in downtown Houston. While the decidedly 21st century perk will be available only to employees in Houston, Rose says the 577-lawyer firm may make arrangements for employees in other cities. “It will really allow people to just have more peace of mind,” says Rose, the mother of a 2-year-old son. She declines to say how much the deal with ChildrenFirst will cost the firm in 2001, but she notes it will provide a benefit to the firm because employees will miss fewer days of work. In the same vein, Hale and Dorr of Boston has the Children’s Place, located right in its building. It is designed for short-term, occasional use (maximum of 20 days per year for full-time employees, and a prorated schedule for part-time employees) when regular child care arrangements break down or are unavailable. Since Boston has many “snow days,” when children are unable to go to school, the Children’s Place is a great solution. The added benefit of having the center in the office building means parents are able to have lunch with their children in the firm’s cafeteria or can bring them to their offices for brief periods of time.

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