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Amgen Co. Opens Child Care Center

June 13, 2000

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) _ The world’s largest biotech company has unveiled what may be the biggest corporate child care center in the country, with 32 separate rooms, paved tricycle trails and space for up to 430 children.

``We’re looking for ways to make it easier for working parents,″ human resources executive Ed Garnett said of the expanded daycare center that opened Monday.

The service isn’t free, but employees delivering toddlers to gleaming classrooms said it was cheaper than most private day care and offered a safer, more stimulating environment for their youngsters.

``It offers peace of mind,″ said Ellen Gams, an attorney who commutes about 30 miles each way from her home in Santa Monica.

``You know where your child is, she is 10 minutes away. It’s nice to stop by and visit if you have the chance,″ Gams said after delivering her 15-month-old daughter to the center.

Rooms open onto outdoor playgrounds that include tricycle trails, grassy areas and sand boxes. Play areas for older children include jungle gyms and other gear. The youngsters’ schedule includes learning periods that focus on science, arithmetic and language.

The center takes children from ages 6 weeks to 5 years.

The expansion of the daycare center cleared a list that had some employees waiting six months or more to place a child in the old center, which held about half as many children.

Parent Chiu Hampton, a computer programmer, said the center was a big help because good private day care service is difficult to find in communities nearby.

``The most important thing is quality of the care given, and I think they have pretty good hiring standards. There’s no comparison with private″ care, he said.

The center is run for Amgen by Bright Horizons, a Massachussetts company that manages more than 300 child care centers nationwide. The Amgen center is the largest of those and, according to Bright Horizons’ research, the largest in the nation, said Leslie Spanier, a vice president for operations.

Amgen, which makes drugs used in treating diabetes and chemotherapy patients, is the largest company devoted purely to biotechnology, although there are larger pharmaceutical companies with biotech divisions.

Amgen officials decline to say much the new center cost, or how much employees must pay for the service. The company tries to set the price 10 percent to 15 percent below what is charged by private providers.

The center is the latest service Amgen has offered to more than 5,000 employees working on its campus, a 60-mile drive northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Other services available include dry cleaning, shoe repair and film developing.

Garnett says the ``concierge services″ are designed to help attract and keep employees: ``It’s probably the icing on the cake.″

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