What is NLEF?
The National Law Enforcement Foundation (NLEF) is a non-profit with a dedicated team of retired and current law enforcement who act as a conduit and the responsible entity to deliver custom childcare and early childhood education for law enforcement agencies and associations. We understand the unique workforce and are dedicated to directly providing the childcare benefits we desperately need to relieve our officers and attract the best recruits.
What do you do for law enforcement?
The National Law Enforcement Foundation (NLEF) provides an innovative approach to police reform and improving recruiting and retention by customizing childcare and early childhood education by directly providing the service for law enforcement agencies.
NLEF is tackling quality of life benefits by implementing "police-led police reform." We build public/private partnerships to secure the funding needed to create customized childcare and early childhood education that meets the demands of law enforcement families.
What makes NLEF's model different than other childcare centers?
NLEF provides customized childcare specifically for law enforcement. We are not simply providing childcare or tax credits. We secure the funding necessary to overhaul the accessibility with round-the-clock care and affordability by providing half of market-rate tuition.
Our model expands operating hours and days from traditional rigid Monday to Friday, no weekends or holidays, to 5 am to 10 pm, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays, with an emergency call-out option. Each center is tailored to the region or agency.
How do you directly provide childcare and early childhood education?
Law enforcement needs a trusted group to represent them and educate our elected leaders that there is a model to help achieve their goals of reversing the recruiting and retaining crisis.
In partnership with nationally accredited childcare providers, we've designed a customizable model with the mission to make the everyday life of a cop more habitable and the profession attractive to recruits who represent the communities they serve, especially women.
We secure the funding necessary to bring a childcare center to fruition and customize the operation to meet the specific needs of the agency or association.
Why start with cops and not other first responders?
- Safe communities start with law enforcement and peace officers.
- A stable-staffed police or sheriff department allows the other professions to do their job.
- We are implementing a program that has yet to be approached by public safety, and we must start with the greatest need. This model can be replicated in other professions after proof of concept.
- While fire may struggle to recruit women, they need the recruiting and retaining crisis facing law enforcement nationwide.
- Firefighters, paramedics, nurses, and other shift workers are critical partners for law enforcement, but we must acknowledge their profession has not been demonized the way law enforcement has. Our goal is to bring a positive solution to care for our current and future officers while making the profession attractive to more women and recruits who represent the communities they serve.
Who is responsible for running the center, and who decides eligibility?
NLEF is the responsible entity with ultimate authority in running the centers. NLEF implements the service on behalf of the agency or association and takes on 100% of the responsibility. We are the implementors, while the local agency is the stakeholder.
NLEF, however, puts together a non-governing advisory board/working group for each center to advise on center logistics and priorities made up of people involved directly with each center in different states.
Are the centers privately or state-run?
Each center is run by NLEF, a private foundation, and managed daily by a nationally recognized and licensed childcare provider. Each center is independent from any governmental agency except for individual state licensing authorities.
The centers are funded as a public/private partnership utilizing public grant opportunities together with private and corporate philanthropy as a genuine community-based approach to addressing the national recruiting and retaining crisis.
How much does this cost?
Changing institutions and public funding is a daunting task that can take years. That is why we are starting now! While public safety is the role of government. Our budget is designed for a public/private approach by bringing private and corporate philanthropy together with public funding to achieve real police reform to benefit the community. Project budgets fund construction, liability insurance, discounted tuition rates, all logistical and provider fees, personnel, and extended hours.
Our model is designed to deliver services via a three-year pilot project. We have a strict policy only to start an endeavor by securing a minimum of three years of funding to ensure consistency for our law enforcement families.
This model of customizing childcare has an estimated project cost of $6M per center, which can serve 100 children daily (capacity can be increased or decreased.) This estimate accounts for the construction, three years of operating funds, which encompasses round-the-clock accessibility and a 50% discount off of the market rate. We also tackle the teacher shortage by increasing their pay by 20% over the market rate. NLEF, in partnership with the national provider, creates a detailed pro forma and overall cashflow budget for each project depending on the agency's needs.
How do we sustain the center after the pilot program?
We aim to provide a proof of concept to agencies after the 3-year pilot program. After three years of operating, we will have data to show how successful the program is in keeping cops in their agencies and attracting new applicants. Funds already being spent on voluntary turnover can be reallocated to this program. NLEF immediately starts identifying funding for years 4-6.
Our coalition will work to ensure this critical workforce benefit will become a standard budget line item just as health care, pension, and many other employee benefits in current use are not enough to make the everyday life of a cop habitable for family life.
The cost to recruit and train officers is estimated to be between $100,000 to $200,000 per recruit. The annual operating cost per center is estimated at $1.5 million. Agencies would only have to retain or recruit between 7 and 15 officers, and the center would pay for itself. But we must work to prove the concept, and NLEF takes on this responsibility.
Do you implement on behalf of a single agency, or do you provide a regional plan?
NLEF is currently implementing both approaches. In Idaho, the center will be regional, serving the Treasure Valley's law enforcement, while states like Colorado and Missouri will address the needs of the police in a single department.
Who do I contact to learn more about the model and gather information for my agency?
Contact Det. Jim Mackay, Ret. at Jmackay@NLEF.org
Why a brick-and-mortar center and not tax credits and vouchers?
While tax credits and vouchers can be helpful to many working families, they do not work for the law enforcement workforce. Tax credits do not provide relief today, and with the increased cost of living, our LE families need the assistance today.
Tax credits and vouchers do not address the accessibility and operating hours. Cops need to know they are leaving their children in the hands of loving professionals under the watchful eye of a secured facility built for law enforcement.
Having their center and a sense of community will help the overall wellness of young LE families, allowing them to serve their community to the best of their ability.
How does this relate to philanthropic giving and missions?
Policing has been a polarizing topic for decades, especially in the past three years. Positive solutions can come from collaborating on common-sense, quality-of-life benefits that will help agencies achieve their diversity goals while restoring the prestige of serving in law enforcement.
If you believe policing needs improvement, customized childcare will help. If you want to help our current officers stay with their agency, then customized childcare will help. While we will not address the entirety of the problem, we have a responsibility to come to the table with tangible solutions that can be implemented and measured for effectiveness. The role of police in our society cannot afford not to innovate and improve. The future of our country depends on our collective effort to improve.
NLEF is not providing the status quo; we are changing how grant funds assist departments to improve recruiting and retention. We champion early childhood education and family support to attract the best officers to serve and represent their community. Help take care of an officer's family; they will be there to take care of yours!