Nike defends day care plan reportedly angering hundreds: 'Change is hard, but we're excited'

Nike's new plan to accommodate more working moms and dads is drawing mixed reviews.

Hundreds of employees are reportedly roasting the footwear giant for expanding its child development program — a company perk that includes an on-site day care facility at Nike's headquarters near Portland, Oregon. Currently, there are more than 500 families taking advantage of the decades-old subsidized program and about 740 more on a waitlist to get in.

In order to grow its successful program and accommodate those who are hoping to use it, Nike is planning to shut down its on-site day care facility and move into a larger building down the road in about 18 to 24 months. The new location will be hosted by Nike's partner, Endeavor Schools, though the athletics company will still be overseeing day-to-day operations.

"Essentially, our current facility provides for about 500 families and that capacity hasn’t changed in 10 years even though our employee population has more than doubled in that same timespan to over 12,000 people," Nike spokesperson Sandra Carreon-John explained to Fox News on Monday. "In order to be more inclusive and extend this benefit to more employees who want the benefit, we decided to expand the facility by partnering with Endeavor."

Endeavor Schools has reported a whopping 716 percent revenue growth over the past three years, calling itself one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

"One of our key ingredients for growth is the care and dedication we offer to our wonderful employees, who mainly consist of passionate educators with a calling to help unleash student potential," Ricardo Campo, CEO of Endeavor Schools, said in a recent news release.

But not all Nike workers are thrilled by the move.

A petition has been circulating around the company in recent weeks demanding Nike keep the children's program on Nike's Beaverton campus. According to Bloomberg, more than 1,300 people, including dozens of parents on the waitlist, have signed the document.

"We appreciate change is hard, but we’re excited to expand this unique benefit so more people can take part in it at Nike."

-  Sandra Carreon-John

Some employees have complained about the inconvenience while others are concerned about changes that could be implemented under Endeavor Schools. Questions about what would happen to current staff members — teachers, caregivers, etc. — running the current on-site program have been raised as well.

Carreon-John confirmed to Fox News each faculty member will be given an opportunity to work at the new location. In fact, it will also give them a chance to grow, she insisted.

"With Endeavor, our staff and faculty will be able to have more career enrichment ... develop their career path," said Carreon-John, explaining they will attend more training seminars and receive various levels of certifications in childcare development. Carreon-John added the new campus will be a roughly 10-minute drive from the current facility.

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But the greatest advantage of a new building, according to Carreon-John: It will be more inclusive, meaning more families will be able to access the benefit.

And Carreon-John reminded skeptical employees the move isn't immediate.

"It's not happening overnight," she clarified. "We wanted to be super transparent and thoughtful about how we went about communicating this investment. This won’t take place for another two years essentially, giving everybody an opportunity to adjust to the changes."


Understandably, Carreon-John acknowledged some parents may have some reservations.

"This is a change for some people and change can feel difficult," she said. "We’re going to continue with the significant subsidies we provide. We appreciate change is hard, but we’re excited to expand this unique benefit so more people can take part in it at Nike."

"Again, it’s part of our effort to continue to provide a comprehensive parental benefits package to our families," Carreon-John continued.

Nike's child development team provides children, from infants to 5-year-olds, with educational activities throughout the day.

"Easy access to Nike’s facilities and grounds offer opportunities for movement and activities, and Child Development employees often participate in on-campus farmer’s markets, athlete visits and other events. Employees’ expertise in early education, child psychology and other areas help give each child’s development a running start," Nike explained on its website.