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Southland Campaign Seeks to Prove Better Parents Make Better Employees

January 11, 1998|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS

With the help of seven large corporations, a Los Angeles nonprofit is hoping to teach Southern Californians to be better parents.

That's a huge aspiration, and it's only the first step, a local tryout for what is intended to eventually become a national program by the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring.

"The basic thrust of the campaign is to get the entire community supportive of helping parents raise the next generation," said Dr. Kerby T. Alvy, director of the CICC and author of "Parent Training Today, a Social Necessity."

The CICC contends that corporations can save money and improve employee morale by becoming "parent-friendly." A parent-friendly company strives to improve the parenting skills of its employees through seminars, classes and support materials, and to improve parenting in the community through philanthropy.

The Southern California project starts in late January, when the CICC will begin distribution of a guidebook called "The Power of Positive Parenting" and launch an advertising campaign on effective parenting. The project will seek to educate all Southern California parents about the essentials of effective parenting, encourage them to participate in local parenting programs, and help push local institutions and corporations to provide more opportunities for parents to improve their child-rearing skills.

Rearing children has always been a demanding job for which most people receive no formal training, Alvy said. The challenges are even greater today, as more parents must work, schools are setting higher standards and children must learn to relate to others from diverse cultural backgrounds, he said.

The guidebook will be free to everyone in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties through the CICC, which can be reached at its Web site (http://www.ciccparenting.org), or by writing P.O. Box 41259, Los Angeles, CA 90044. Corporations can join the campaign by calling (800) 325-2422.

In addition to the 717,

The guidebook distribution effort and advertising campaign in the five-county area are being underwritten by AT&T, GTE, Home Savings, KABC-TV, Southern California Gas, Toyota and Xerox.

California's Best Companies

Workers in California stand a better-than-average chance of being employed by one the best companies to work for, as deemed by Fortune magazine and consultants Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz, authors of the book "The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America."

That's because California is home to more top companies--15 of the 100 listed in the Jan. 12 issue of Fortune--than any other state. Six of the companies are based in Southern California.

Leading Fortune's list was Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, followed by Kingston Technology of Fountain Valley (they of the famous year-end bonus pool).

Ranking was based on employee surveys and an assessment of benefits by the Hewitt Associates consulting firm. To be eligible for the list, a company must have at least 500 employees and be at least 10 years old.

The Southland Six that made the list and the traits that got them there:

* Amgen (No. 74) of Thousand Oaks. Benefits at this biotech company include stock options, subsidized on-site child care, Friday night beer busts, quarterly parties, free refreshments and on-site conveniences such as a gym, film-processing and a flower shop.

* Kingston Technology (No. 2). Last year this computer memory device maker generated news by granting employees bonuses that averaged $75,000 per person; other perks include a driving range behind the plant, free soft drinks and cups of noodles.

* Los Angeles Dodgers (No. 58). Employees get four tickets to every game and free ice cream whenever the Dodgers are in first place and increase their lead.

* Mattel (No. 64) of El Segundo. On-site child care, 13 paid holidays a year, good work-family benefits, up to 48 hours a year for child emergencies and 16 hours a year for school activities.

* Odetics (No. 85) of Anaheim. Employees are "encouraged to have fun and learn new skills"; the headquarters, which is across the street from Disneyland, features a lap swimming pool, basketball and volleyball courts, gym with personal trainer, garage for car service, dry-cleaning and a travel agent.

* Patagonia (No. 24) of Ventura. This clothing maker sports two on-site child-care centers. It contributes 1% of sales or 10% of profit to environmental groups.

Other California companies on the list: Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard (No. 10), Pleasanton-based PeopleSoft (No. 20), Watsonville-based Granite Rock (No. 23), San Jose-based Cisco Systems (No. 25), Santa Clara-based Intel (No. 32), San Francisco-based Morrison & Foerster (No. 52), San Jose-based Adobe Systems (No. 56), San Rafael-based Lucas Digital (No. 60) and Mountain View-based Sun Microsystems (No. 69).

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Has your company developed an interesting way to help employees balance work and family life? Write to Balancing Act, Los Angeles Times, Business Section, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Or send e-mail to nancy.rivera.brooks@latimes.com

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