Special to The Hays Daily News

Early Childhood Connections has received the gold level "Breastfeeding Employees Support Award" from the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition and its Business Case for Breastfeeding program.

The award is based on proven and established standards to benefit employers and employees. It recognizes businesses that provide support services to their breastfeeding employees, to include education as well as the time and space for employees to nurse or pump at their workplace.

The award, the top ranking of three sponsored by the coalition, was presented by Brenda Bandy, executive director of the Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition.

Early Childhood Connections received the award for achieving a high level of support to their employees as outlined in the coalition's criteria. They provide a pumping room, allow employees time to pump and have a written policy of breastfeeding support.

The group is working to change the fact many mothers abandon breastfeeding after returning to work because they lack the support and appropriate facilties, Bandy said in a press release.

Research indicates adequate support for nursing mothers benefits businesses through savings in health care expenses, reduced turnover rates, lower absenteeism and increased employee loyalty.

"Many Kansas employers recognize the benefits of supporting their breastfeeding employees. We want to shine the spotlight on as many employers as we can for dong their part to make returning to work while breastfeeding easier in hopes that will encourage more businesses to follow suit," said Martha Hagen, a Kansas WIC state breastfeeding coordinator.