A Sponsored Initiative

Wharton Impact Conference: Caring for the Young Children of Working Parents

2000 / Location: The Wharton School

This landmark — described and illustrated in this report (with a list of participants) — brought together 75 opinion leaders and decision-makers from outside the traditional circle of those directly concerned with child care and work/family issues.  Leaders from the business community sat side by side with those from the political arena, the advocacy sphere, and academia.  Among those present were the mayor of a major city; legislators from several states; executives from industries as varied as manufacturing, financial services, transportation and healthcare; and leading experts on policy issues.   An economist, one of the key presenters, supplied important financial and social perspective often missing from the work and family discussion. One of the benefits of the conference was creating a meaningful dialogue across sectors.  Working groups strove together to identify programs and partnerships that would benefit all families.

The action agenda affirmed by participants in this conference was that public and private partners must work together in pursuit of these changes:

      • Make child care a government budgetary priority; obtain public funding through sources such as the lottery.
      • Develop a universally compelling message with inclusion of stakeholders and speak the message with one voice.  For example, “Child Care IS Early Childhood Education.”
      • Create an effective marketing strategy to raise awareness about early childhood education.
      • Educate corporate leaders and parents to deliver the message.
      • Involve business via Chambers of Commerce, lobbying, or tax credits to invest in child care for employees or the community.
      • Institute publicly-funded, voluntary pre-kindergarten.
      • Strengthen existing early childhood system.
      • Institute extended paid leave for parents, funded by either the public or private sector, perhaps drawn from unemployment insurance.

Based on the insights from this event and supplementary research on corporate practices relating to child care, Stew Friedman and Ellen Galinsky, of the Families and Work Institute, wrote an article for the Financial Times, Corporate Help is at Hand for Working Parents.