With more than 25 years in construction, Tara Connor has worked on a lot of projects. But she’s never seen anything quite like the on-site childcare center at the Pittsburgh International Airport.
“This is an initiative that our industry I don’t think has ever seen,” Connor said. “It’s just such a wonderful commitment that the airport has put forth.”
Connor, pre-construction manager for Turner Construction Co. in Pittsburgh, recently donated $1,000 to the childcare center on behalf of the company for STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) tools and toys. It was the first donation to the center since it opened in September.
Turner, one of seven prime contractors on the airport’s Terminal Modernization Program, is building the Multi-Modal Complex, a massive six-story parking facility with a new paved parking lot and renovations to two existing parking lots.
Operated by La Petite Academy, the childcare center is available to infants, toddlers and pre-kindergarten-aged children of airport employees, as well as those working on the construction site. ,
In less than two months of operation, the center is already serving 12 children whose parents work for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, American Airlines and other partners around the airport.
La Petite’s state-of-the-art curriculum emphasizes core STEM principles for children, focusing on connecting academic skills to real-world applications and preparing them for elementary school.
As a construction company, Turner embraces those same STEM-focused values. Connor explained that children may remember holding hard hats and seeing construction vehicles from a young age as they grow into future careers in fields like engineering or construction.
“They’re young but they still see construction,” Connor said. “It all just kind of promotes the industry as they’re growing older.”
Given their proximity to the airport, Turner employees working on the new terminal have seen the childcare center’s progress firsthand. In fact, one Turner parent enrolled a child in the center soon after it opened.
Connor, like working parents all over the world, understands the stress that comes with being employed and searching for childcare.
“Both of my children went through daycare while I went to work, and I personally recognize how difficult that is for parents having jobs and having sustainable care for their children,” Connor said.
The donation from Turner will further help the center’s growth, giving more working parents chances to start careers at the airport. As one of the only airports in the world to offer on-site childcare, PIT opens doors to parents for whom childcare is often an obstacle to joining the workforce.
“It just makes the stress level for the parents lower, and it makes it a little easier for them to get through their day knowing that their children are nearby and safe,” Connor said. “Hats off—construction hats off—to the airport.”