December 2023 Update: WeeCare changed its name to Upwards in September 2023. Read a letter from Upwards' CEO to learn about the company's rebrand and expanded mission. Nothing is changing about the current childcare benefits available to Dollywood employees through Upwards (formerly WeeCare).
Dollywood officials announced a new partnership with WeeCare offering an unparalleled childcare benefit for hosts working at the Smoky Mountains theme park. WeeCare, the largest childcare network in the United States, provides hosts at all Dollywood Parks & Resorts properties with licensed childcare providers who offer flexible schedules for newborns through school-aged children. Additionally, The Dollywood Company will pay a portion of childcare costs for those who enroll in the program.
This new benefit comes at an opportune time, as many parents are unable to return to their jobs following the pandemic due to a shortage of childcare workers. WeeCare concierge care managers are available to help enrolled hosts find and tour licensed, safety-certified family childcare homes. Once a family childcare home is selected, WeeCare assists in enrolling the hosts’ children and provides around-the-clock care support. The network of WeeCare facilities includes full-time, part-time, backup, drop-in, school-aged, after-school and overnight care options in the area.
“Obviously, this is a tremendous benefit for our hosts,” said Tim Berry, Dollywood Vice President of Human Resources. “Simply put, childcare arrangements can be overwhelming to most families. It is our hope that this new partnership takes some of that stress away from our current and future hosts. The Dollywood Company has always been devoted to taking care of its employees and this is the next commitment to that. WeeCare can help hosts find childcare with hours that mirror Dollywood’s operating calendar, allowing our hosts more flexibility in scheduling. As any parent can attest, you can breathe a little easier when you know your kids are taken care of; there is an instant sense of relief. We want this to be the case for our hosts. Additionally, we will pay a portion of the costs for children at enrolled facilities, and all hosts are eligible. This benefit is not dependent on income.”
“The WeeCare program adds to the new benefits we’ve provided to our hosts in recent weeks,” Berry added. “We just introduced a new loyalty bonus as a way to reward our employees for their dedication based on longevity and service to the company. Additionally, we offered pay premiums and free lunches for the month of June. Our hosts are what truly set Dollywood apart, and we want to reward them for what they do to make this a special place for our guests.”
WeeCare carries out its mission by providing an easy platform for parents to find affordable childcare including daycares, preschools, and nannies. Childcare deserts, areas where there are more than three children per childcare spot, are a harsh reality for many communities. WeeCare strives to reduce parental stress and ensure they are supported in the childcare process so they can show up to work ready to conquer the day.
“WeeCare seeks to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of daycares, preschools, and overall childcare,” Jessica Chang, CEO of WeeCare, said. “Only 7% of companies provide childcare benefits to their employees, and even fewer provide subsidies, so Dollywood is showing its team how much they truly care.”
Average tuition for full-time, traditional daycare centers can be as high as $2,100 a month or more, pricing out many families. “Our average tuition for WeeCare ranges from $600 - $850 per month, which is much more affordable,” Chang said. “The reason for this is because we exclusively offer home daycares. WeeCare provides lower student to teacher ratios, are often conveniently located in neighborhoods, and offer flexible care schedules for employees who work weekends or holidays. Since we work with home daycare providers to fill their spots, their overhead is often lower, and those savings can be passed down to families to provide affordable, quality care.”
Dollywood launched its childcare benefits program on June 21. Upon joining WeeCare, Dollywood hosts will be able to find the perfect childcare conveniently close to their home or workplace. WeeCare partners with local childcare providers to help them grow their small businesses, supporting them with all business and marketing efforts.
For anyone looking to join Dollywood’s award-winning team, the company is hosting several hiring events at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort & Spa in the coming weeks. Hiring events are planned for June 30, as well as July 7, 12 and 21. All events take place from 2-6 p.m. New job opportunities are always posted throughout the year at Dollywood.com/jobs.
Earlier this year Forbes named The Dollywood Company as one of the best employers in the United States for 2021, according to a ranking on their website. Dollywood was represented well among the 500 companies on Forbes’ list of the best midsize employers. The list includes companies across 25 industry sectors, with only 20 companies on the list in the “Travel & Leisure” category of which Dollywood was included. Among those companies, Dollywood ranked sixth and was the only theme park on the midsize list. To view the entire list, visit https://www.forbes.com/lists/best-midsize-employers/
Pointing to Dollywood host job satisfaction, the Pigeon Forge park has long been voted as the friendliest theme park in the world. The park also earned the inaugural Golden Ticket Award for Best Guest Experience, which factors friendliness of employees into its criteria. The prestigious Golden Ticket Awards are given annually by industry publication Amusement Today. This recognition is the gold standard for theme parks worldwide.
Hosts at The Dollywood Company receive a variety of unique benefits including access to the Dollywood Family Healthcare Center, along with complimentary Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country admission for family and friends. Employees also take part in Dollywood’s Park Perks program which provides free or reduced admission to a large number of regional attractions, theaters and experiences. A comprehensive benefits package, including medical, dental and vision, is available for qualified full-time employees. Affordable lunch options are available for working hosts at several locations across the properties and are just $2.50 (free in June). Free soft drinks also are available to hosts at multiple locations.
Numerous opportunities are available to help employees develop leadership skills, including a new apprenticeship program in conjunction with Walters State Community College. From part-time positions for students to full-time careers with ample chances for advancement and all points in between, Dollywood offers employment opportunities for a number of career aspirations. The Dollywood Company continues to host a number of hiring events throughout the season to give potential employees the chance to attend at the time that best suits their individual needs.
For more information about Dollywood’s 2021 season, please visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.