Pilot program welcomes babies on the job at Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney's Office

TACOMA - An agency in Pierce County just got a little cuter thanks to the help of newborn babies. The Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is piloting a program for one year, allowing employees to bring their infant child to work.

Wednesday was Kristal Cowger’s third day back at the office from maternity leave, and the first day her baby girl, Kali, joined her.

“Have her here to break up the week and not have to go the whole week being away from her,” said Cowger, a deputy prosecuting attorney.

The "Infants at Work" program is open to all prosecuting attorney’s office employees who have one baby six weeks to nine months old. It saves parents on childcare costs, and helps the office offer a unique incentive to high-quality applicants.

Though it may be a challenge to balance work and family while on the job, Cowger said it will come down to planning.

“If I’m able to allocate specific things that I can do when she’s awake and then have other projects that I complete when she’s sleeping and I come up with a plan and a schedule, I think I’ll definitely be able to make it work,” said Cowger.

Babies get fussy sometimes. In order to prevent work disruption, parents will have 30 minutes to calm their child or take them home. Also, vaccinations are encouraged for babies but not required.

Annie Yu is expecting her second child any day now. She used the program daily with her first daughter when she worked at the Attorney General’s office.

“If we would have meetings and we talked about it ahead of time, she would come to meetings with me,” said Yu.

The deputy prosecuting attorney said more agencies would benefit from the program.

“It made coming back to work so much easier,” said Yu. “My other experience was amazing and my coworkers, I think, got to see a different side of me and I got to see a different side of them.”

Part of the program requires parents to designate two coworkers as “care providers” just in case mom or dad need to break away. Yu said the extra helping hands were also bonding experiences.

“We all get stuck in our adult worlds doing adult things around adults all day and forget that there’s magic in having a baby around,” said Yu. “There were people, when I did the program before, who would come to me and say even when she’s crying it’s so nice just to hear a baby, just to hear life.”

Cowger and Yu said both of their jobs are research and writing heavy, so they spend much of their time in an office. Cowger said her workflow makes it easier for her daughter to be with her.

“It might work well for some and it might not work for some. But it’s a good option to have available,” said Cowger.

Cowger said she plans to bring Kali once a week. Right now, the mommy-daughter duo are just getting settled into sharing office space.

“Still trying to figure out where is a good place for everything and what’s going to be able to make her happy and the best place is for her. But she’s been pretty good so far,” said Cowger.

The state Department of Health was first to start the program in 2015. The prosecutor’s office is the first county agency in Pierce County to pilot the program.