The following is a press release from the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation
The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) today launched an online companion to its Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, a robust tool that helps employers incorporate family-friendly workplace practices that attract and retain talent and improve health and well-being for children across North Carolina.
NCECF announced the online guide today at the Family Forward NC Summit, a gathering of business and community leaders from across the state. At the Summit, participants explored ways to incorporate family-friendly practices in their own workplaces and heard from keynote speaker Brigid Schulte, director of the Better Life Lab at the nonpartisan think tank New America, and business and community leaders such as Patrick Conway, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC); Lisa May, executive vice president of human resources at RTI International; and Anita Brown-Graham, director of ncImpact.
The summit and guide are part of Family Forward NC, an initiative to improve children’s health and well-being and keep North Carolina’s businesses competitive by increasing access to research-based, family-friendly practices that improve workplace productivity, recruitment, and retention and support children’s healthy development.
Conway, who spoke as part of a panel of business and community leaders about the importance of family-friendly workplace practices to employers, announced that Blue Cross NC will invest $250,000 to support Family Forward NC’s second year. Blue Cross NC was the founding sponsor of Family Forward NC in 2018.
“It’s important now more than ever for businesses to enact more family-friendly policies to recruit and retain top level talent. Blue Cross NC is proud to support Family Forward NC and its mission in advocating for resources and support to North Carolina families,” said Patrick Conway. “We know that employees who work for businesses that support a healthy work-life balance tend to be happier which increases productivity. That makes us a better business for our customers. I’m lucky to lead a company that practices these values.”
Family-friendly workplace practices such as flexible work schedules and paid parental leave have a direct, positive impact on child health and well-being and provide positive benefits to employers such as attraction and retention of top talent, improved productivity and boosted employee morale.
Yet many current employer policies are based on a two-parent household with one parent who stays at home to care for children full time, which fits only nine percent of today’s families.
That means the vast majority of working parents are struggling to balance work and family needs:
- 75% of mothers and 50% of fathers say they’ve passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to care for their children.
- Across North Carolina, there are 5.3 young children for every infant and toddler child care slot, meaning that there are enough slots for just under 19 percent of infants and toddlers in North Carolina. However, in North Carolina, 67 percent of children under age six have all available parents working.
- Only 13 percent of private industry workers have access to paid parental leave, and nearly a quarter of moms return to work just two weeks after having a baby.
Employers are losing out, too:
- Up to 5 million more workers would join the US workforce if they had access to more family-friendly benefits.
- Half of North Carolina employers had difficulty hiring in 2018, and a record-low 3.6 percent unemployment rate and an ongoing skills gap means employers must work harder to attract and retain top talent.
The Guide to Family Forward Workplaces provides tools for employers of all sizes with practical tips for selecting and implementing 16 family-friendly practices such as flexible scheduling, accommodations for pregnant workers, and paid parental leave that have evidence to support positive business outcomes and improved child health and well-being. To help create the guide, NCECF worked with an advisory council of prominent business leaders, community leaders and health experts and gathered input from more than 1,000 employers and employees throughout the state.
Research shows that children’s earliest years are so defining to their brain architecture that by the time a child turns eight, his or her third-grade reading outcomes can predict future academic achievement and career success. Decades of research show that children need health and development on track from birth, supportive and supported families and communities, and high-quality birth-through-age eight learning environments with regular attendance to build strong brains.
“Across the state, schools, policymakers, and community and business leaders are recognizing the importance of investments in young children. And the majority of North Carolina voters across the political spectrum want the state to double its investment in early childhood development. But one piece of the puzzle that’s been missing is workplace supports for parents. That’s where Family Forward NC fits in,” said Lisa Finaldi, NCECF’s community engagement leader.
To learn more about Family Forward NC, access the Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, or learn more about the upcoming summit or workshops, go to www.familyforwardnc.com.
About Family Forward NC and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation
Family Forward NC is an innovative initiative to improve children’s health and well-being and keep North Carolina’s businesses competitive. It is business-led change to increase access to research-based, family-friendly practices—big and small—that improve workplace productivity, recruitment and retention; grow a strong economy; and support children’s healthy development. Family Forward NC is led by the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), the state’s only organization focused exclusively on children from birth through age eight—the most rapid period of development in human life. Visit www.buildthefoundation.org for more on NCECF.