NC Early Childhood Foundation Releases Updated Guide to Family Forward Workplaces

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Updated version of groundbreaking guide for employers includes wages, new child care supports 

We are excited to release an updated Guide to Family Forward Workplaces! The updated Guide, which went live today, now includes information and resources about family sustaining wages and employee assistance programs, along with new data and resources about how employers can support employee child care needs

The Guide to Family Forward Workplaces provides tools for employers of all sizes with practical tips for selecting and implementing family-friendly workplace practices such as flexible scheduling, accommodations for pregnant workers, and paid parental leave. 

“As someone who focuses on industry growth and expansion in NC, I know that support for working families is crucial to the success of our businesses and our economy. In fact, child care access and family-friendly workplace efforts like Family Forward NC are so critical to economic growth that they are included in the state’s latest strategic economic development plan.”

James Wolfe, existing industry expansions manager, Southeast Region
Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina

Originally released in 2019, the Guide has inspired more family-friendly workplaces across North Carolina, helping employers attract and retain talent and improving health and well-being for children and families. Since the Guide launch, NCECF has engaged with more than 6,500 NC employers and is partnering with organizations in Montana, Minnesota, Florida and Pennsylvania to inspire employers in those states.  

“Family friendly workplaces were important to our economy and to families before the pandemic, but the pandemic has further increased the need and urgency for workplace practices that keep parents in the workforce, especially women, and ensure our state’s businesses and economy are resilient and strong,” said NCECF Executive Director Muffy Grant. “Child care supports, family sustaining wages and mental health support, along with accommodations for pregnant workers, paid leave and flexibility, are essential to business outcomes and to child and family health and well-being.”

Consider these statistics:

  • Child care need has increased during the pandemic and now costs NC families, businesses and the economy $2.9 billion each year in lost revenues, up from $2.4 billion before the pandemic. 
  • In North Carolina, 46 percent of mid-career adults (age 34-45) earn less than what they need to cover living expenses.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General issued a public health advisory in December 2021 on the urgent need to address children’s mental health. Additionally, 70 percent of parents and caregivers report adverse mental health affects related to the pandemic, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

To help create the guide and its updates, NCECF worked with two advisory councils of prominent business leaders, community leaders and health experts and gathered input from more than 1,000 employers throughout the state. 

According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the pandemic has created “the most difficult hiring environment for employers in a generation or more,” and employers across the country are struggling to fill positions. Family-friendly workplace practices have been shown to attract and retain talent and improve employee morale and productivity.  

“As someone who focuses on industry growth and expansion in NC, I know that support for working families is crucial to the success of our businesses and our economy,” said James Wolfe, the existing industry expansions manager, Southeast Region, for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC). “In fact, child care access and family-friendly workplace efforts like Family Forward NC are so critical to economic growth that they are included in the state’s latest strategic economic development plan.”

The North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) created the Guide as 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. 

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.