Governor Ducey announces 'Infant at Work Program' expansion

Posted at 8:15 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-12 13:37:34-05

Many state employees will be able to have their offices double as a daycare as Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced the "Infant at Work Program" is expanding to several other agencies.

Under the program, new parents can bring their newborns to work for the first six months of the baby's life.  

Currently, Arizona Department of Public Health and Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System employees are taking part.  And now, Gov. Ducey says he is expanding the program to the Arizona Department of Economic Security and Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Chief Legislative Liaison, Shannon Whiteaker, found out she was pregnant with her little boy Remington the day she accepted her job.

"As you can see, he's healthy and he's happy," said Whiteaker, as she showed off her baby's crib right next to her desk. 

Remington is one of five babies currently at the Department of Health Services. At four and a half months old, Whiteaker is getting ready for the transition. 

"He comes with me every day," said Whiteaker. "We are slowly getting him into daycare and the transition has been nice. It's great to know that I can bring him here if I need to."

Gov. Ducey stopped by the offices on Wednesday afternoon to meet some of the parents in the expanding program. 

"It increases productivity," said Ducey. "We're less likely to have a state employee leave the employment of the state. And we have a lot of happy babies."

But can a crying baby have a negative impact on the workplace? 

Doctor Cara Christ is the Director of the Arizona Department of Health services and a big advocate for the program. She says they never have complaints from workers. 

"We've never had to ask a parent to leave the program," said Christ. "Our parents are very respectful. They are more concerned about the baby crying and making noise than anyone else."

Dad Kevin Watanabe has been taking his little girl Katelyn since she was a month and a half. He says with his wife breastfeeding, he does not get that much one-on-one time with his daughter. 

"Bringing her into work has been a great opportunity to bond, just the two of us," said Watanabe. 

"There is great civility and respect," said Ducey. "And I think it makes people more kind to each other."