Two Years of Research, Work and Support

NCECF, Trends

Today, the NC Early Childhood Foundation’s Family Forward NC released our biennial report showcasing two years of groundbreaking work fostering employer-led change in family-friendly practices. The research and outreach conducted since the initiative launched in 2017 aims to help employers understand the importance of family-friendly policies in improving productivity, recruitment and retention; growing a strong economy and supporting children’s healthy development to grow the workforce of the future.

Current employer and public policies show that North Carolina is still relying on an outdated model of a two-parent household where one parent stays home with the children full-time. In fact, that applies to only nine percent of families. That means 91 percent of families are working in this system, and the struggle is real:

  • 75 percent of mothers and 50 percent of fathers have passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to care for their children.
  • 40 percent of parents say they’ve left a job because it lacked flexibility.
  • 41 percent of working parents say their work performance has suffered due to a lack of family-supportive benefits.

Since inception, Family Forward NC has propelled employer-led change across North Carolina to increase support for working parents and improve worker attraction and retention.

One year ago, we released our Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, a groundbreaking online and print tool to assist employers in creating family-friendly workplaces across NC. And throughout the last two years, we’ve engaged with more than 5,000 NC employers of all sizes and industries through our research, Advisory Council, partner engagements, case studies and business roundtable discussions. We’ve also presented the Guide hosted by chambers of commerce and business associations and at key influential events. Our goal is to increase access to information and resources, knowledge sharing and coaching and provide inspiration to businesses determined to create a family-friendly workplace.

During year three, we will offer the following new strategies to create workplaces that support business, families and the health and well-being of children:

  • Learning Cohorts to Provide Concentrated Support: We will engage motivated employers within three target industries—leisure/hospitality and furniture/textile manufacturing—to add industry appropriate, family-friendly policies by providing concentrated support with human resource and legal consultants.
  • Develop a Certification Model: We will develop a certification network model to incentivize employers to offer family-friendly workplace benefits through recognition.
  • Support Employers with Bridge Grants: We will fund grants to bridge transition for small and medium-sized employers within our target sectors. We regularly engage employers who are ready to offer family-friendly benefits but are financially challenged by the transition.

“In this tight labor market, employee retention is becoming ever more critical in sectors ranging from tourism to manufacturing. Businesses need to consider creative solutions like offering child care and employee health services as they compete to attract and retain high-performing employees in their industries.

The EDPNC—which works on the state’s behalf in business recruitment, existing industry expansion, small business support, and tourism promotion—is eager to partner with Family Forward NC to help many of our state’s businesses identify these types of resources.” — Chris Chung, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

Read the Family Forward NC biennial report here.