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Futures forum: toward family-friendly communities.

The city of Los Angeles has been on the cutting edge in developing programs to create a Family Friendly Community, assisting its employees in balancing their work and family roles and encouraging the private sector to understand the benefits of a workplace which acknowledges that workers also bear family responsibilities.

Recognizing that employees who are assured that their family members are safe and well cared for will be less distracted, more productive and more motivated, the city offers the following programs to its employees:

[section] Parental and family illness leave, allowing an employee to utilize accumulated sick leave, vacation and/or unpaid personal leave time for up to four months with right of return to the same job classification.

[section] Flexible work schedules.

[section] Part-time work and job sharing.

[section] Help with child care and eldercare services, as detailed below.

Early in 1987, the Los Angeles City Council adopted a Child Care Policy and hired a Child Care Coordinator with city wide responsibilities to encourage and facilitate quality, affordable child care: Among activities of this office are:

[section] An on-site child care center for city employees who work in the Civic Center. Care is provided for 100 children three months through five years of age, and a kindergarten program has recently been added. Additional projects are being planned for other city worksites, including the Airport, Harbor, and Convention Center. Some partial scholarships are available for low-income employees.

[section] The city has negotiated 10 percent discounts on fees for city employees at several privately operated child care centers located in different communities in and around the city.

[section] Parenting classes are offered free to employees, covering issues such as discipline, handling anger, dealing with teen problems, etc.

[section] Resource and referral assistance in locating a licensed child care provider is available to employees through the child Care Coordinator's office.

Eldercare has become a pressing issue in many families and Los Angeles has responded to the need for care for elderly family members, both for city employees and for people in the community. Programs which have been developed over recent years include:

[section] Publication of an eldercare information guide to assist families in finding appropriate services.

[section] A toll free eldercare information line.

[section] Lunchtime seminars for city employees on eldercare issues.

[section] Current creation of an intergenerational facility which will provide day care for the frail elderly in a shared facility with a preschool child care program. The two age groups, while served by separate programs, will come together for meals, art and music activities and holiday celebrations. This model program has been selected to receive a generous donation from a private charitable foundation to fund the extensive remodeling of a city-owned recreation building which will house the intergenerational program.

Progressive employee programs compliment Los Angeles' response to family needs through many different civic programs. An extensive program for latch-key children is operated at city parks providing transportation from schools so that children can participate in sports, supervised study, art and recreational activities instead of wandering the streets unsupervised. The city also provides financial support for extending the hours of after-school activities at school sites where no parks are nearby.

Los Angeles was recognized by Working Mother magazine as a city which has done much to create an atmosphere in which parents can provide for their children's care while maintaining their workplace obligations.

Joy Picus is a Los Angeles Councilwoman who has played an integral part in that city's efforts to be a "family-friendly community."
COPYRIGHT 1992 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Picus, Joy
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Mar 9, 1992
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