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Parent-Friendly Firms Garner Worker Loyalty

Training: Offering parenting-skills programs can boost the bottom line, author says.

July 20, 1996|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Corporations collectively spend huge sums of money each year to train employees to perform a wide range of tasks, and Kerby T. Alvy wants to add one more thing to the list: how to be better parents.

Not only is parenting training essential to the improvement of society, it also adds a nice shot to the company's bottom line, argues Alvy, who is founder and director of the Los Angeles-based Center for the Improvement of Child Caring, a nonprofit dedicated to the improvement of parenting.

As part of the quest to encourage parent-friendly workplaces, Alvy's Studio City-based CICC is sponsoring a conference with Working Mother magazine Thursday and Friday at the Sheraton Universal Hotel called "Careers & Kids, Balancing Work and Parenting Responsibilities."

"Parenting classes are key," said Judsen Culbreth, editor-in-chief of Working Mother. "People don't have a basis for comparison. What worked for their parents doesn't seem applicable to their kids."

Alvy distinguishes between a "family-friendly" company, which provides an atmosphere and policies that are helpful to families, and a "parent-friendly" company, which strives to improve the parenting skills of its employees through seminars, classes and resource rooms, and tries to improve parenting in the community through philanthropy.

"Everyone is going 'family friendly' and our emphasis is 'parent friendly,' " Alvy said. "It's more focused on helping parents raise their kids. . . . It requires a certain level of consciousness on the part of the corporation."

If a corporation adds better parents to its product line, it will be helping to attack a host of social ills in the community, said Alvy, author of "Parent Training Today, a Social Necessity."

But such training also pays off in reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and loyalty to the employer, he said.

Chicago-based Waste Management Inc. found that after launching parenting programs, employees "weren't spending so much time talking about their problems because they were taken care of," Alvy said. What's more, participating employees actually made less use of medical benefits, resulting in a $1,600 annual saving per employee, he said.

"This stuff seems like common sense," Alvy said. "If you help parents be better parents, they'll be better workers."

The Careers & Kids conference at Universal City will bring together child-care consultants, educators, health-care professionals and community leaders, among others, to discuss various parent education programs and how to get corporate America to offer them.

The conference will feature workshops on such topics as what types of parenting programs corporations are offering, telecommuting, developing programs for families of destructive adolescents and ethnic parenting.

On Friday morning, a "Parenting Program Faire" will showcase a variety of parent-training programs. For more information, call: (800) 325-2422.

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