Good Corporate Citizens Care For Their Workers’ Children

gcwcGood childcare for workers has become a “business decision,” said Hewlett-Packard Co.’s work/life manager, Susan Moriconi. On-site child-care centers can be costly, and some locations are too small to support them. By going in with other employers through ABC, companies distribute the cost and assure a wider population of children will use the facilities.

The 21 ABC “champions” will provide most of the $100 million for the six-year venture, but other companies can also join in single projects. The money will help existing child-care and elder-care facilities to expand their offerings, and improve the training and equipment in those centers.

The purpose is to improve care so that “when our people are at work, they focus on work, not on problems at home,” Purkey said.

Why do it?

TI already has a Resource Referral Service and flexible workplace rules to help employees balance family and work demands. But when TI “looked at the infrastructure around us,” said Purkey, “we realized that it doesn’t matter how well-paid our people are if quality [care] options aren’t out there. You have to have the infrastructure.”

That includes child care not only for infants and preschoolers, but for school-age children as well. “That’s a real major gap,” Purkey said. Many working parents worry about latchkey kids returning to an empty home.

Moreover, it’s not unusual for engineers and software developers to work well beyond the usual care-facility closing times of 5 or 6 p.m. What do you do with the children?

“There’s a real need for backup care,”said HP’s Moriconi. On the surface, the availability of after-school programs and day-care facilities may look good. But when it snows, a child gets sick or a holiday closes a center, parents find their options limited.

Though HP’s headquarters are in balmy Palo Alto, Calif., most of its employees work at offices in Boise, Idaho; Chicago; Colorado and Massachusetts. When schools close for snow days, “it’s tough for employees,” said Moriconi.

It’s instances like those that ABC is hoping to resolve through collaboration.

gccA loosely knit organization of corporations, the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care started three years ago on IBM’s initiative. Eleven “champion”companies kicked off a $27 million campaign to support 355 dependent-care projects, and more than 100 other firms participated on a smaller scale in their own cities.

Hewlett-Packard linked up with the group a year ago. TI joined two months ago, said Purkey. “It came at an ideal time for us.” Motorola, an original “champion,” has bowed out, but will still be part of individual projects.

The success of the first campaign led to the current $100 million venture. Not only will ABC produce new or expanded facilities, it will promote such special projects as a voice-mail service in 97 schools that will help parents keep up with children’s homework. Purkey noted that the technology companies are particularly interested in the summer science camps being planned for the children.

Among the joint-venture projects that HP is looking at is a day-care facility in Boise, where it has a major plant, a project in northern Colorado and one in Chicago. All involve other ABC partners or major employers in those cities.

Moriconi said that in Chicago, Motorola and IBM have considerably larger numbers of employees than HP. Without a joint venture, HP would have been unlikely to pursue child-care options, she said. The Chicago project is “in process right now,” she added.

In the EE Times “1995 Worldwide Salary and Opinion Survey” of 952 engineers and managers, only 4 percent said their employers offer on-site child care, and 5 percent provide access to off-site centers. But 19 percent said they’d like to see such benefits added.

Posted by admin in Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

  Some XHTML allowed.