“Paid parental leave meant we could give our foster kids the attention they need.”

Nestlé’s Parent Support Policy has only been in place a year, but it’s already making a difference in the lives of employees like Michael.

Michael and his wife Katy, who recently took in two foster children

My wife Katy and I had been looking at adoption for a while, and we’d gone through the process of attaining a licence for adoption. It’s not about just filling in a form — we met a caseworker in December of 2016, and it took 10 months to go through the whole system, which included 35 hours of online courses and attending in-person classes 2 days a week from January-March 2017. Fortunately, in my role as forklift operator at Nestlé Purina’s Davenport facility in Iowa, my shifts include weekend hours — so I had some weekdays free to attend courses.

I had told my HR manager and our team lead that I was looking into adoption, and I’d heard that Nestlé had a new Parent Support Policy that I was eligible for, so in some ways we were prepared. But I don’t think anything could have prepared Katy and I for what was to come!

Michael and Katy

Here, you need the same licence to foster a child as you do to adopt a child. We got the licence on September 1st, and were already applying to adopt a child — then something unexpected happened. I left for work on the morning of September 18th, and by the time I got to work at 6:30am Katy called and said the foster service were in need of emergency placement, and she’d agreed that we were available. I took a break from work at 10:30am and saw a text from Katy — two babies had already been brought to our house, we had practically no warning!

I immediately told my team lead, and headed home. I wasn’t due back at work for three days, but after two days my HR manager called and told me that I could start the Parental Support Policy. My 14 weeks of paid leave started with that frantic text and heading home on my break — it was that flexible!

Jayden was 3 months old and Joey was 13 months old when they were placed with us — young, for foster placements — and due to the emergency situation under which they needed our care there were some inevitable extra difficulties with behavior. Joey especially had some anxiety issues that needed special attention.

Katy wasn’t able to take time off unless it was unpaid, so the Parent Support Policy offered by Nestlé made a world of difference. If the kids were awake in the early hours of the morning Katy was able to sleep and be more rested before work while I took care of them — it also helped with my own safety, because there’s a huge difference between being tired at home the next day and being tired at work while operating a forklift truck.

Paid leave took away the stress — I could just focus on the kids.

Michael and Katy with their two dogs, and the beautiful landscape of their home

The first few months with Jayden and Joey were tough, we didn’t have any kids before them (we were proud dog parents!). We had to get used to the new routine, and they had to get used to us. Now, the kids are 7 and 17 months old, and things are much better. The attention we’ve been able to give Joey has made a huge difference: he’s 100% different than he was when he was first placed with us.

That time at home was so valuable. I don’t think we could have managed without the Parent Support Policy. Katy might have been able to take a couple of days off, but that would have been it. We’d have been stretched incredibly thin. This way, we could give the kids the care and attention they needed, and we had the time and the opportunity to learn to be new foster parents.

Learn more about Nestlé’s first year of the Parent Support Policy.