On-site child care sounds like the kind of benefit that only a large, deep-pocketed company could offer. But Bill Brecht, owner of a BMW dealership in Escondido, Calif., had a slightly different view when 2 of his 47 employees -- almost the entire business department -- were pregnant. "I didn't want to lose these employees. Their combined brainpower meant a lot to our company," he says.

His solution: let the moms care for their babies at work. A bit of research showed that a child-care license wouldn't be needed in California as long as the child's parent was caring for him. Brecht's wife, Jeanelle, had applied for a license to open an on-site day-care center but had been denied. That option obviously would have been much more expensive -- about $25,000 a year. Instead, the company has spent less than $500 on playpens, infant swings, play gyms, and two doors. Brecht calls the experiment "a resounding success. It's sent a spark throughout the store, breathing new life into the place."

-- Ellyn E. Spragins

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