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Bringing Up Baby in a Workaday World

September 14, 1989|SIOK-HIAN TAY KELLEY | Times Staff Writer

MONROVIA — Babies napping at a law firm?

Two-month-old Sara Montgomery and 4-month-old Zachary Singleton don't think the idea too odd.

For them, the important thing is that their mothers--legal secretaries Sally Montgomery and Florence Singleton of the Monrovia law firm Patten, Faith & Sandford--are close at hand.

A senior partner, attorney Jules Sandford, said he offered the women the option because he didn't want to risk losing them to motherhood at home.

"That's a third of our staff there," he said. "Sally has been with me 25 years. Also I thought that if one of my kids was in that position, she'd like the child with her for bonding purposes."

Awards Luncheon

The firm was one of several businesses and individuals singled out at an awards luncheon Wednesday by the Monrovia Child-Care Consortium. The 2-year-old entity, with representatives from the city, Chamber of Commerce, churches and other service organizations, focuses on improving child-care options within the Monrovia Unified School District.

Others honored were Mayor Pro Tem Mary Wilcox, Councilwoman Lara Blakely, the Monrovia Volunteer Center and Foothill Inter-City Newspapers.

Results of a Monrovia needs-assessment survey conducted in May by the consortium showed that 320 of the 383 people who responded needed or were using child care. Sixty-one respondents needed child care but could not find it. And at least 52 people said they were unable to work or seek training for work because of the lack of child care.

Organizers of the luncheon planned to distribute information packets to about 60 employers with information on assessing child-care needs of employees, procedures for claiming tax credit for employer-assisted child care and community resources such as Child Care Information Service, a United Way agency in Pasadena.

The goal is to get more businesses involved in child care, said Dr. George Nalbach, consortium president.

At Patten, Faith & Sandford, an office that housed a copy machine has been converted to a nursery, complete with stuffed toys and cribs provided by the firm. Mothers sometimes lay their infants on the floor beside their desks; colleagues are always ready to help out with work if the children insist on receiving attention from their mothers.

Might Have Quit

"Everybody pitches in," said Singleton, adding she would probably have quit if she had been forced to leave her baby at home.

Sandford said he isn't worried about declining productivity with the distracting pair around.

"These are very conscientious ladies," he said. Anyway, each lawyer has a private office.

"At some point, particularly when they're starting to crawl, we may need a sitter," said Lorrie Grindstaff, an attorney. Sandford has taken a wait-and-see position on that score. For now, "this has added a great deal of warmth to the office," she said.

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