Accenture, a Fortune Global 500 consulting firm that employs more than 178,000 people in 49 countries, was among the 20 winners of the UK-based organisation Working Families’ annual list of family-friendly employers in the United Kingdom in 2009. The company’s ‘Maternity Returners Programme’ was set up in 2005 to increase not only the maternal return rate, but also the number of women who are still working for Accenture one year after returning from the maternity leave. Accenture’s Maternity Returners Programme includes improved contact between HR representatives, career counsellors and line managers to ensure clear, sensitive two way communication with an employee before during and after her return to work Also, the company offers a ‘New and Expectant Parents’ brochure, which includes information on its family-friendly policies, such as maternity/paternity policies, seminars for parents, flexible working, career choices and external support organisations.
The maisons relais or ''half-way centres'' look after children between the end of the school day and their return home. Open to children aged 3-12 – and sometimes older – they are distinguished by their flexibility, proximity of location and quality of the childcare provided. They exist in a number of European countries, in particular Luxembourg, where they have seen rapid growth in recent years. There are now 106 of these maisons relais providing almost 16,000 places for a country with a population of just under 500,000. The Luxembourg maisons relais are co-managed by the municipalities and open to children who live or attend school in the area. Their flexibility is one of their greatest benefits. Parents with variable working hours (part time, varying from day to day or week to week, etc.) have access tailored to their needs, thereby making it easier for them to combine work and family life.
Klabb 3-16 is an after school hours care service for children aged 3 to 16 years who attend state, church and independent schools. Each club has a co-ordinator, who is responsible for the overall running of that particular club, and a team of dedicated and professionally trained staff. The clubs run from Monday to Friday between 2.30pm and 6pm (during school days) and between 7.15am and 5.15pm during some holidays. The service offers a planned programme of activities where children can first do their homework, play and take part in activities. Activities include a variety of arts and crafts, storytelling, sports, drama, music activities, cooking and free play. The clubs are located in school buildings, which means that the capacity of each club depends on the buildings’ capacity as well as the staff capacity. Currently, the clubs can look after between 150 and 200 children. "Parents are advised to register their children at the respective clubs. They are also advised to book for the service directly with the club. We are very flexible, even the day before is enough for us. Obviously for better efficiency booking in advance is desirable," said Roderick Agius, the CEO of the Foundation for Educational Services.
Austrian Airlines was awarded the ‘Work and family audit’ certificate in 2008. The company’s family-friendly policies include a company medical officer, having a cash machine in the main building, offering childcare places in a kindergarten at the airport, free bus/train from the city centre in Vienna to the airport, a comprehensive career development programme, a regular employees'' newspaper and a rehabilitation programme for those with alcohol or other addiction problems and flexible options to work from home.
The Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS), whose work revolves around helping jobseekers find work and paying out unemployment benefit, has produced equal opportunities and women’s development plans within the AMS since 1995. The plans are first agreed with all the regional heads. The latest one runs from 2008 until 2013. The special focus for the coming years is on helping to ensure that men and women share family responsibilities.
Since 2000, the Social Affairs and Labour Ministry of the Hungarian government has held an annual competition for family-friendly workplaces, to recognise companies and institutions that have introduced measures facilitating a better work-life balance for employees. The government is keen for employers to become more responsive to the family-related needs of their employees and has set up a competition as it wants other companies to be able to learn from the best practice models highlighted through the award scheme. Applications are submitted and then evaluated by a jury, which is made up of representatives from the Employment Ministry, the Family Ministry, the Employment Office, trade unions, employers’ associations and civil organisations. The jury then chooses a winner in each of the five categories of awards: publicly financed and non-profit organisations, micro- (under 10 employees), small (10 to 50 employees), medium-sized (50 to 500 employees) and large enterprises (over 500 employees). The five winners can call themselves ‘Family-friendly workplaces’ for the year in question and use the accompanying logo.
In the Netherlands, all schools – public and private – are fully subsidised by the state. ‘Brede schools’ do not receive extra funding. Rather, the ‘brede school’ policy is linked to local rather than national policy, also in relation to funding. Supporting policies do exist at national level, which stimulate the development of the ‘brede school’ concept. The activities and buildings are further organised and funded through the municipality, school boards and other bodies, such as social work, child day-care, and sport and art organisations. ‘Brede schools’ are open to children of all ages: from pre-school through primary and up to secondary level. There are now more than 1,200 ‘brede schools’ in the Netherlands. In the 1990s, these schools were located in traditionally disadvantaged areas and particularly in those with high rates of migrant inhabitants. These community-centred schools were meant to enhance the chances of these groups and to help families better integrate into society. Nowadays, ‘brede schools’ are increasingly located in a wider variety of areas; not only in large cities in traditionally disadvantaged areas, but in order to maintain a certain level of facilities for children and their parents also in small villages.
Employees from seven organisations based in the same area of Marseille in France have been able to put their children in an intercompany crèche called ‘Cap Canailles’ since February 2009. The crèche is located in ‘la Joliette’, an area with some 11,000 employees and 1,000 companies. If they take up the option, parents pay the same rate as for a municipal crèche and the opening times (7.30am until 7.30pm) are longer than for municipal crèches. “Creches in France are hard to come by and there are long waiting lists,” says Marie Pelen, who runs the Cap Canailles intercompany crèche. Looking after young children is a major problem for working parents in France as, on average, there are only nine crèche places available in the country for every 100 children aged up to four.
French families and families from EU countries legally residing in France with at least three children under 18 years old can benefit from a card offering a range of discounts. The card is called a ‘Carte Familles Nombreuses’. Under the scheme, each member of the family has their own card. The management fee for processing applications comes to €19, which the family must pay. This amount stays the same however many cards are issued to the family. When the card was created in 1921, it gave cardholders discounts on journeys using the French national railways. Families with six children or more benefit from a 75% reduction, those with five children from a 50% reduction, those with four children from a 40% reduction and those with three children from a 30% reduction. Parents who have or have raised five children at the same time benefit from a 30 % reduction on second class tickets. A poll in 2009 showed that one cardholder in four uses the card at least once a month to take the train, 26% to go on holiday or for a long weekend by train, 31% more rarely and 17% never. One family in four uses it at least once a month to benefit from commercial partners other than the French national railways.
Municipal Centres for Families are local facilities offering practical services for families with children who face everyday problems, such as the difficulty of reconciling work and family. These centres, located mostly in the Italian region of Emilia Romagna, primarily support young couples, single parents and immigrant families – the latter of which are often not fully integrated into the local society. Municipal Centres are also frequently meeting places for groups of families who enrol in discussion groups addressing work–life balance. The Centres are part of the municipal system of social services and are coordinated and financed by the Emilia Romagna Region. In recent years, however, five other regional centres have joined the core Municipal Centre group, following Emilia Romagna’s example.
Consultation between employees and management is key to addressing the challenges of reconciling work and family life.
In May 2009 the Belgian civil society organisation, the Gezinsbond (the ‘league of families’), launched an initiative to promote family-friendly policies to companies. The aim is to create a forum for the promotion of a family-friendly business culture and to allow companies to advertise themselves as family-friendly employers.
The initiative, the ‘Charter for a family-friendly company’ comprises an agreement to be signed by both employer and staff representatives – either a trade union representative or individual staff members making up half the total personnel plus one. By signing the charter employees confirm that their employer subscribes to four key values and applies 10 principles that are considered to be important in combining work and family life. The values enshrined in the charter refer to the organisation’s commitment to:respect for an employee’s role in their family, equal opportunities for both genders within the company andopenness to dialogue. While these values refer more to the general philosophy and approach of the organisation, the Charter also itemises the principles that the employer applies in practice, such as: respect for existing labour law regulations, clear and transparent communication and implementation, integration of family-friendliness into business plans and flexible working arrangements such as teleworking or part-time.
Businesses, government organisations and the non-profit sector are all eligible for recognition by signing the Charter with their staff.
The Danish government is seeking to encourage enterprises to have more women to fill management positions through a Charter called the ‘Charter for more women in management’. Despite having a very high share of women in the labour market, the share of women in management in Denmark is well below the European Union average: In 2009, the percentage in Denmark was 24% as against 33% for the EU as a whole. The aim of the Charter is “to ensure that women and men have equal opportunities to pursue management careers; to launch specific, measurable initiatives in companies and organisations to increase the proportion of women at all levels of management; and to make sure that public and private sector enterprises deploy all talents”. The Charter was developed by five public enterprises (the Danish Medicines Agency, the University of Southern Denmark, the State Employer''s Authority, the Ministry of Employment and the Municipality of Aarhus) and five private enterprises (pump manufacturer Grundfos, international consulting group Cowi, financial services company Nykredit, supermarket chain Irma and airline SAS) and presented in March 2008.
Coface Ibérica, the Spanish division of the French insurance company Coface, has a system of flexible working hours. Employees can choose the time that they start and finish work as long as their monthly target of working hours is met. They can start work any time between 8am and 9.30am, take a lunch break of at least 30 minutes and two hours at most and can leave work at 4.30pm at the earliest. Staff at Coface Ibérica do not work on Friday afternoons. They may be able to leave at 4.30 pm every day of the week and can do so when they need to by managing their time. If necessary, they can work longer hours on another day of work to compensate for the fact that they have worked less hours on certain days The weekly working time is 40 hours, reduced to 35 hours between 15 June and 15 September. The employees can also reduce their monthly working time by up to ten hours provided that they make up that shortfall the following month. The company does not keep data on how and how many employees take advantage of the flexible working hours. However, it maintains that the fact that employees can work fewer hours in a given month helps families in extraordinary situations. One example of this is an employee who had to take their child for treatment because the child was suffering from attention problems at school.
German bank Commerzbank offers its 37,000 employees the option to take up a combined family-friendly package called ‘Kids & Co’. The package provides employees with childcare facilities where they can drop off their children (up until age six) while they are at work, a free hotline to help them find a childminder and an emergency childcare service (for children aged from nine weeks to 12 years old). The bank pays an outside company called Familienservice GmbH [Family Service] to provide these services.
Since 2004, Gender studies, a Czech NGO that promotes equal opportunities in the labour market, has been organising a yearly ‘‘Company of the Year: Equal Opportunities’ contest. The competition seeks to motivate employers to implement effective equal opportunities programmes and policies for both women and men. The scheme receives financial support from the European Union and the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The competition is a means of promoting equal opportunities in the Czech Republic and a special form of rewarding companies that address this issue. Gender equality is still a relatively marginal topic in the country, partly because the perceived lack of profitability for the support of equal opportunities by companies and the general unawareness among the wider public of the benefits involved. “The purpose of the contest is not only to recognise the best employers but also to motivate others by providing examples of good practice”, stressed Helena Skálová, project coordinator.
Ethnic minority fathers and their kids teamed up to produce animated films in the ‘Dads in Demand’ project in Harrow and north London, UK. The project was run by the Campaign for Learning in partnership with the Fatherhood Institute in the UK The project''s goal was to reach out to fathers who have little contact with the school environment and lack an understanding of the importance of their role in their children’s education. A further aim was to involve these fathers in developing innovative learning activities with their children, based on new media and technology.
Dell manufactures PC hardware and provides IT software and IT solutions. It has offices in 43 countries and around 78,000 employees worldwide. The Slovak subsidiary employs 1,500 people, 40% of whom have families. It carries out an annual employee survey on its family friendly policies and asks for suggestions from employees. “Where particular policies get the most votes and are feasible, we introduce them,” said Pavol Varga, the Human Resources Manager for the Dell Bratislava site. One example of a policy introduced based on employee feedback is to give employees the day off when it is their child’s first day back at school after the summer holidays. The policy was introduced in September 2009 and applies for the first four years of the child being at primary school (i.e. from age six to ten).
Designed by NAPR and funded by the DoE, the Helping Families Programme is a parenting intervention launced in 2010 to improve outcomes for families with primary-school-aged children (5-11 years old) at risk of school exclusion and suffering from severe and persistent conduct problems help their children break with chronic and severe non-compliance, aggression, destructiveness and violation of social rules such as lying and bullying that are associated with negative future outcomes.
Children in Hungary with delayed or impaired development are being helped to reach their full potential thanks to a pioneering centre in Budapest. The Early Intervention Centre (EIC) provides a package of services for children aged 0-6 delivered by a group of specialists that focus on the development of the child as well as the needs and circumstances of the family. With a team of paediatricians, special teachers, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers and integration specialists, the Centre provides a complete approach to care by combining all their staff’s knowledge to help families in need. The main goal of their activities is to ensure health and well-being of the child, to enhance families’ abilities in caring for their children and to minimise developmental delays. “Our approach can be considered as unique as several different experts work together in an interdisciplinary team built around the child,” says Barbara Czeizel, manager of the EIC. “We provide a diagnostic assessment of the children, where a group of our highly qualified professionals review the medical history and recent problems, and then examine the child using the latest methods. After evaluating the assessment results, we choose from our special therapies those that best suit the needs of the child.” The centre specialises in helping children with autism, with severe and multiple disabilities and premature babies. Specialists do this by working with parents as partners and taking care of their special needs too. Some of the therapies completely involve the parents whereas others just require them to attend and observe.
Ecce ama!, which is a programme of Belgium’s Resource and Research Centre for Early Childcare and Education (VBJK), develops training modules to prepare low- skilled men and women for jobs in the childcare sector – more specifically for a job as family day care provider-childminder – or for employment in local child care initiatives in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
The project also prepares trainers, managers and early childcare practitioners to work with disadvantaged and socially deprived groups (such as lower educated or lower skilled men and women) who frequently experience difficulties in accessing services for young children.
Ecce ama! focuses on developing training tools and preparing managers, practitioners and trainers to work with high risk groups on the labour market. In addition, getting men involved in early child care, improving the overall quality of employment in child care and making childcare more accessible to socially disadvantaged groups are targets of the Belgian (Flemish) project.
Ecce ama! attaches major importance to guiding people towards quality childcare that is accessible to all parents and children.
The Dutch youth care system offers extended services in both primary care for families with mild, everyday parenting questions and secondary care for families with a complexity of problems. Current efforts in changing the youth care system are aimed to reduce the high and often unnecessary claim on specialized, secondary youth care and strengthen easily accessible and low intensity primary care. Over the last five years, due to this change of focus in the Dutch youth care system, more than 400 municipality centers have been created, offering face-to-face and online sources of support to youth and families. One of the tools for providing online support is single session email consultation, in which a parenting practitioner responds to a parenting question, posted in an online environment.The Dutch youth care system offers extended services in both primary care for families with mild, everyday parenting questions and secondary care for families with a complexity of problems. Current efforts in changing the youth care system are aimed to reduce the high and often unnecessary claim on specialized, secondary youth care and strengthen easily accessible and low intensity primary care. Over the last five years, due to this change of focus in the Dutch youth care system, more than 400 municipality centers have been created, offering face-to-face and online sources of support to youth and families. One of the tools for providing online support is single session email consultation, in which a parenting practitioner responds to a parenting question, posted in an online environment. For training and evaluation purposes, the Guiding the Empowerment Process Model is developed and evaluated in order to enhance practitioner's knowledge and skills in online communication.
The Equality is Quality award (‘Prémio Igualdade é Qualidade’), which dates back to 2000, is given to private companies, public organisations and non-proift organisations which promote gender equality. Its aim is to combat discrimination and promote equality between women and men at work, in employment and vocational training and reconciling work and family life. The award recognises company practices that can help women access the labour market and those that can help men take a full part in family life. Two companies won the award partly for the latter type of practice.
In France, 72% of employees believe companies “do not do much” to help them achieve a healthy work-life balance. These re the findings of the Corporate Parenthood Observatory revealed in its 2010 Barometer on Work-Life Balance based on a survey carried out among 1,002 employees with children under the age of 25 living at home. A signatory to the Parenthood Charter since April 2008, Ernst and Young (E&Y), the auditing and consulting firm, has introduced a range of services to support maternity. Stated aims: to help ensure maternity is a joyous occasion for both employees and employer and to increase the loyalty of female staff. The auditor set up a system of individual meetings. These meetings, which last for an hour, are attended by a partner from the service line and a HR representative. hese meetings enable various issues and concerns expressed by employees to be addressed calmly and meticulously. They include topics such as the reorganization of client portfolios, missed training courses, promotions, remuneration and return-to-work conditions.
The Hungarian National Foundation for Recreation (HNFR), the main social tourism body in Hungary, is responsible to implement Erzsébet Program, the present main social tourism initiative in Hungary.
Erzsébet Program provides the possibility of recreation to such groups of society a) that could otherwise not afford to go on holiday due to financial reasons, b) who face other difficulties and need special attention, as the disabled, or c) who deserve particular attention, as the children. The later lies at the heart of the initiative called the Erzsébet Camp.
Within the framework of the Erzsébet Camp, HNFR has been providing holiday support through grants – for holiday fun at camps – to tens of thousands of children since 2012. Each year the Foundation publishes calls for general camps (spring and fall break trips for school classes, school summer camps, summer camps for children in child protection care/in foster care networks or under family support and/or child welfare services) and thematic camps (organized around more than 50 topics, e.g. creative and performing arts camps led by acclaimed artists, sports camps with Olympic and world champions, scout camps, camps for the Hungarian diaspora). The attentive care provided by the hundreds of volunteers, camp leaders and child care professionals allows for the carefree camp experience of the beneficiaries.
The Escape Form and emergency room nurse training was a program aimed at increased screening for an early detection of child abuse. The program consisted of a new six question checklist to screen for child abuse and training sessions in the use of that form for emergency room nurses. It was implemented in late 2008 in four hospitals in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands.
The European Early Promotion Project (EEPP) was an experimental service to promote children’s mental health and prevent the onset of psychosocial problems in children aged 0-2. The intervention was integrated into the primary health care systems at particular sites within the capital cities of Cyprus (Nicosia), Finland (Tampere), Greece (Athens), Serbia (Belgrade), and the UK (London). The EEPP consists in a cross-cultural method of engaging primary health care professionals (PHCPs) in Cyprus, Finland, Greece, Serbia, and the UK to work with families to promote the psychosocial well-being and development of infants at risk of mental health problems by helping parents adapt and interact to their new parenting situation. The EEPP approach to preventing the onset of child mental health difficulties was as much psychosocial as physical. In addition, it relied on the premise that a positive parent-helper relationship is instrumental to effective family support. The programme trained primary health care workers to conduct promotional interviews with prospective mothers 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after birth, to identify those in need of parenting skills support, and to provide counsel and guidance to families ‘in-need’ for as long as necessary over a 24 month period.
Family Centers are daycare institutions that offer a basic assortment of support mechanisms to children and their families beyond simple education, advice and child care. This program is funded by the state of North Rhine – Westphalia and provides 12,000 Euros per program institution that manages to be certified as a Family Center. All in all, the Family Center certificate consists of 112 single items in four performance areas and four structural areas that typically encompass the set of duties for preschools. The four performance areas tested are consulting and support for families, family building and relationships, child care and compatibility of family and work. The four structural areas are social awareness, cooperation and organization, communication, as well as performance development and self-evaluation. In order to qualify for the certificate and the attached funding, an institution will have to score reasonably well on a vast majority of these components.
A family magazine called Pere ja Kodu (Family and Home) and a business newspaper called Äripäev (Business Daily) set up an Estonian Family- and Employee-Friendly Company Award in 2001. The idea was to draw attention to companies in Estonia that value a family-friendly corporate culture. Between 2001 and 2008, Pere ja Kodu and Äripäev bore the costs of the competition alone. However, since 2009, the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs has paid for most of the cost, which comes to around 4,000 euro per year. The two magazines now focus on organising the competition and publishing the results. “I can’t say that Estonian society was child- or family-friendly in 2000. Ten years ago the issue of family-friendly companies was very rarely, if ever, raised in Estonia,” says Tiia Kõnnussaar, editor-in-chief of Pere ja Kodu. Companies take part to build their reputations, to show how they are more family-friendly than other companies and thereby to attract good employees. The winners of the competition gain media publicity in the magazine and the newspaper, which helps promote the company’s public image. In addition, a public event is organised every year for the best companies.
To help strike a better work-life balance Slovenia introduced in 2007 a certification scheme to encourage employers to apply family-friendly principles in the workplace. The ‘Family Friendly Company’ certificate is awarded to companies in Slovenia that adopt at least three measures from a catalogue of work-family reconciliation measures, such as flexible working times, company childcare services, job sharing, adoption leave, part-time work and the assistance to care for a disabled family member. The certificate is implemented under the auspices of the Slovenian Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs. Goals of the certificate scheme include:
Sensitising businesses about negative impact of discriminating parents and potential parents in the workplace and in the labour market
Providing businesses with tools for implementing human resource policies that enable a better balance of work and family for their employees;
Publicly recognising businesses with a positive attitude to provide options of balancing work and family of their employees.
"Fathers'' Story Week" was created to instigate real change in the way fathers relate to their children’s school, and to increase their involvement in their children’s education. Set up by the Fatherhood Institute in the UK and timed to coincide with Fathers’ Day, the weeklong event also aims to get dads and children working and spending time together and to raise money to help families with fragile father-child relationships. Research has revealed that children with positively involved fathers and father-figures (whether or not they live with them full-time) benefit in many ways. Many fathers want to be more involved in their children’s education, but often find it difficult to engage. This is where Fathers'' Story Week comes in.
The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has been awarding one prize each year for ‘Father of the Year’ since 2006 to encourage fathers to take a more active role in family life and in bringing up children. Rather than individuals or organisations submitting an application for the prize, a working group made up of civil servants and NGOs select a few candidates and decide on a prize winner every year. The group nominates fathers that they see as being eligible. The decision is made by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health together with the Council for Gender Equality, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, the Central Union for Child Welfare, Väestöliitto (The Family Federation), Miessakit (Men''s Groups in Finland) and NYTKIS (the Coalition of Women''s Associations in Finland). A representative from each organisation takes part in the working group. At an award ceremony, the winner is presented with an artistic photograph of a father and child. The cost of running the award is minimal. The photograph is one cost plus the working time of some civil servants and the reception after the awards ceremony.
The Fife Cares Home Safety Scheme is a Fife Community Safety Partnership initiative that was launched in 2006. Its goal was to reduce the number of accidents in the home involving children. By visiting individuals and families in their own homes, the service addresses specific needs and provides tailored advice and assistance to families.
The Partnershipʼs Fife Cares Child Safety Scheme offers families with children aged five and under a free home risk assessment. Assessments are undertaken by two Home Safety Advisers who visit families in their homes and conduct a room by room check for hazards. As appropriate safety advice and education is supported through the provision, and sometimes installation, of child safety equipment tailored to a familyʼs individual needs. There is no form filling, no waiting list and all the equipment is fitted free of charge.
Information drawn from Child Safety Europe Good Practice Guide: http://www.childsafetyeurope.org/publications/goodpracticeguide/info/casestudies/scotland-fife-cares.pdf
The German Federal Foundation “Mother and Child – Protection of Unborn Life” was established in 1984. It provides additional, easily accessible financial support to struggling mothers-to-be, aiming to make it easier for them to go ahead with childbirth. Since its creation, the foundation has supported about 150,000 pregnant women in need every year – about one fifth of all expectant mothers in Germany. Between 2006 and 2009, roughly two thirds of recipients were German, while one third were citizens of other countries. Only 3% of recipients were under 18 years old.
Sweden’s ‘gender equality bonus’ – introduced in 2008 – is designed to make it easier for mothers to return to work after childbirth and to encourage fathers to take more of their parental leave so that mothers and fathers can share childcare duties more evenly. The Swedish government believes that, by encouraging the families to share parental leave more equally, it will strengthen incentives for mothers to return to work and will contribute to reducing the gender pay gap.
Since 1995, Finnish employers with at least 30 employees have had to draw up a Gender Equality Plan each. The plans are closely monitored by the Ombudsman for Equality, which has given awards to the best ones several times. They enable employers to share knowledge about equality planning and show them how they can improve their organisations’ image.
There have been awards for good planning processes up until 2004. Each time, there was a press conference was held and the company benefited from a lot of publicity several years afterwards. After the 2005 reform of gender equality legislation, under which the standards for equality plans were made more detailed, it has been very difficult to find any plans to give an award to.
A number of minimum standards for the plans were introduced in 2005. These are that the plans must be prepared with employees, they must include an assessment of gender equality in the workplace and they must include pay comparisons and the analysis of pay differentials between men and women (compulsory) as well as provide an analysis of how successful the employers have been in implementing the previous plan. If the Ombudsman thinks that a plan that has been sent in has shortcomings, it can then give guidance and ask the company to send in a new plan. If the new plan still has shortcomings, it can give more concrete guidance and may visit the workplace and discuss particular issues with employers and employees. The plans cover areas such as the recruitment procedure, the employment of women and men in different jobs, career progress, working conditions, personnel training, reconciliation of work and family life, attitudes to gender equality as well as occupational safety and health.
Gepetto (Garde d’Enfant Pour l’Equilibre du Temps professionnel, du Temps familial et son Organisation – Childcare for a balance between working life, family life and its organisation) is a childcare system for children between 0 and 13 years of age provided at families’ homes at times when no other facilities can meet the childcare requirement. It was designed mainly to assist parents working in sectors with unsocial working hours such as catering, hotels, retailing, intermittent workers in show-business, and public transport workers. It also concerns parents who travel for work, or who have to look after sick children (turned away from a nursery or who cannot go to school), or a breakdown in the usual childcare mode (nursery closed, child-minder sick or absent …). Gepetto complements the other childcare modes that already exist: nurseries, approved child-minders, non-residential leisure centres, after-school care. This mode of childcare is available 7 days a week, day and night at the parents’ home. The work is carried out by childcare professionals (kindergarten teachers, early childhood workers and people with a certificate of professional competence in child-minding). Gepetto aims to recruit professionals qualified to look after young children, and guarantees them a certain level of pay and inclusion in a collective labour agreement. Several Gepetto franchises have been opened in France, covering eight départements of France, in the north, east and south of the country. They constitute the Gepetto network, but operate independently and under different names.
In 2009, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Slovakia was given a special award by the Slovak Ministry for Family Affairs for its long-term contribution to family-friendly policies. GSK’s main business is to research, develop and promote pharmaceutical products and vaccines. It is one of the top 500 global companies with workforce of more than one hundred thousand people. One hundred and fifty of them work in Slovakia, out of which 50 are based in the Bratislava office. GSK Slovakia also has flexible working time arrangements. In terms of family policy, women returning to work (from all the departments apart from medical representatives who visit clients) can work from home. They can also be gradually phased back into work.
Since 2005, the Morbihan Caisse d’Allocations Familiales [Family Allowance Fund] (CAF) in France has been facing the challenge of providing the department’s users with a different and unique service. The policies implemented are based on the payment of financial benefits and on social action targeted at families, thereby contributing to stability for families and their children and supporting them during times of hardship. This strategy of assisting families is known as the “global provision of services”. The aim is to provide global and appropriate responses to the diversity of situations and needs of beneficiaries and to develop solidarity with the most vulnerable families.
Parents in Sweden are entitled to a combined total of 480 days’ of parental leave. But as Shadé Jalali, Equality Specialist at the trade union Unionen explains, “it is mostly women who take advantage of it. And therefore it is mostly women that lose out in their career, that take pay cuts, while their husbands progress up the career ladder”.
Unionen, a trade union for professionals in the private sector, wanted to do something about this. “We noticed that a lot of our members are being let go because of having a baby”, says Jalali. “So – do we make a blacklist? Or do we instead find a way that means other companies are inspired to do good things?”
Unionen opted for the latter, in 2003, by launching its Golden Dummy (Guldnappen) prize to identify family-friendly companies and to encourage others to follow their examples. Since then, the Golden Dummy has been awarded on a yearly basis to one of Unionen’s 65,000 member companies. In 2009, silver and consolation dummy prizes were added. Each year has a different theme: in 2009, the theme was “Leadership”, focusing on equality within management, while the 2010 theme is “Borderless parenthood”. Evaluators will be looking at how flexible workplaces are, for example whether employers take into account children’s daycare hours or special circumstances such as children falling sick.
‘Good Parent - Good Start’ is a programme to protect young children (up to the age of three) from abuse. The idea is to help parents bring up their children without violence by offering them free access to educational resources and support services. It is a programme for parents expecting children or parents of young children up to three years old to help them bring up their children without violence/smacking. The programme is run by a Polish NGO called the Nobody''s Children Foundation (NCF), which has been working with children abused by parents or relatives since 1991.
The Granton Youth Centre (GYC) provides community based support for young people in the British city of Edinburgh. GYC offers specific services for 11-25 year olds that include counselling and employability work, volunteering and peer education, as well as schools based services for the local community. Since its opening in early 2003, the centre has attracted a growing number of young people. Some of the wider goals of the centre are to improve the employment prospects of young people, develop a positive attitude to the benefits of education, promote a healthier lifestyle and improve access to health services. GYC receives a grant funding from the Children and Families Department of Edinburgh City Council amounting to £31,212 (c.a. €36,367) per year. The centre receives additional funding from a range of trusts and organisations.
The overall objective of “Hand-in-hand”, which began in 2008 and ends in 2010, is to develop mechanisms that detect when support for students and their families is needed – and that these students and families receive timely, relevant assistance. One way of achieving this goal is a new software tool that tracks students’ behaviour at school. Previously in Latvia there had not been established criteria for assessing students’ behaviour. The pilot project will establish a uniform system for assessing records of pupils’ behaviour and study results, and promote the dissemination of this good practice example to other schools. Another concrete tool which has been developed during the project is specialised computer software for assessing pupils’ behaviour. Since September 2009 this software, called ‘E-klase’, has been implemented in three grades in schools in Cesis. It has also been applied by 16 pedagogues in 5 different schools, reaching 318 children. With the aid of this computer program a child’s parents receive information about their behaviour. In this way, the Cesis project works to improve cooperation of students, parents, schools and other local government institutions in order to solve different everyday issues regarding children and his or her family. It also helps educators cultivate a positive environment for cooperation within the family context. Specialists from Ukraine, Belarus and Finland visited Cesis in order to get acquainted with the project and to offer their own experience about further linking family and education.
The Healthy School and Drugs program is a nationally implemented program in the Netherlands, intended to prevent or postpone the onset of use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. It is a three year program targeted to adolescents, starting in the first grade where students are about 13 years old. The program consists of an e-learning module of four lessons about alcohol, three lessons about tobacco and three lessons about marijuana. The lessons aim to increase knowledge about substances, risks associated with substance use and refusal skills for settings where there is group pressure to use substances. The lessons are made up of short films, animations, interactive tasks, and peer discussion boards. The three topics were administered in consecutive years between April and July. A second component of the intervention was delivered to one group of participants which included parental participation, regulation, and monitoring and counseling components. The parental participation was incorporated as a parent meeting in the first year of the program where parents were provided information about the Healthy School and Drugs program and substance use. The regulation component was implemented at participating schools in the second year concerning whether and where students were allowed to drink or smoke at school or at school functions. The monitoring and counseling component was delivered to school personnel in the second year as a training to recognize and provide support to adolescents developing problematic substance use patterns.
“Helmet Your Head” is a hospital-led bicycle promotion campaign that consists of school talks and promotional and awareness events. The school-based talks include age-specific information, true scenarios of children who suffered from head injuries, a demonstration with an egg to demonstrate the effect of a head injury with and without a helmet, and information on how to wear a helmet properly. All children are asked to pledge to wear helmets and the programme includes a low cost helmet purchasing scheme and free helmets for children in low income areas.
A Slovenian NGO called 'The Centre for Autism' is in the middle of a two-year EU-funded project looking at how far autism respite centres can help young adults suffering from autism spectrum disorders in their working life and with social contact in general. At the end of the project in 2012, an evaluation will be carried out based on the results of work done in autism centres in Slovenia, Hungary and the UK. Researchers estimate that about 1% of the population are affected by autism disorders. Sufferers typically struggle to hold down a job and lack social and communication skills.
Since 2007, mothers employed by Hewitt Associates, a consultancy and HR outsourcing company in Poland, have been able to take four weeks of extra paid leave, in addition to the legal minimum of 20 weeks of maternity leave. The condition is that they must take the leave straight after their maternity leave ends. Instead of the four weeks of paid leave, they can also opt for a bonus of four weeks of pay if they come back to work straight away. Fathers can take two weeks of paid leave straight after their paternity leave has finished but cannot claim a bonus instead. “We’re very pleased to see that lots of employees have come back to work after their maternity leave, as opposed to claiming the parental leave,” said Human Resources adviser Monika Bar.
Hewlett Packard (HP) Slovakia won a national family-friendly employer award in 2005 for an overall package of measures. HP is a global provider of IT infrastructure, personal computing and imaging and printing products employing over 320,000 people and operating in over 170 countries. HP Slovakia can offer employees teleworking, flexible working, flexible maternity or parental leave and a company crèche. It has flexible working times so that employees can start work any time between 7am and 9am and leave between 4pm and 6pm. This would mean that those starting at 7am would finish at 4pm and those starting at 9am would leave at 6pm.
Back in 2005, Ikea Germany began opening crèches near its local offices to fit the working hours of its 13,981 employees (62% of whom are women). The home furnishing company took this step because Germany suffers from a shortage of childcare facilities, especially for children under three years of age. “If they do exist, they usually close at around 4pm, which is no good for Ikea employees who often work until 8pm,” said Xenia Mohr, Diversity Manager for Labour Law & Social Affairs at Ikea Germany. The facilities are located near the Ikea stores, have long opening hours (from 6am to 9pm Monday to Saturday) and do not close for holidays. The facilities are also open to the children of parents who are not Ikea employees.
“Iliachtida” is a Non Governmental Organization that has been working since 2000. After a long time of substantial efforts, we succeeded in March 2010, to establish the first Hospice for Children in our region.
“Iliachtida” runs a Hospice for Children located in Nea Smyrni, a suburb of Athens, situated in a nice building offered by the Municipality of Nea Smyrni.
The Department of Education at Aarhus University in Denmark is leading a four-year (2010-13) project to improve preschool teacher training so that children's emotional and intellectual needs are better looked after from an early age. Another aim is help day care centre staff develop techniques to ensure that all children play a full part in their group of children, also known as 'social inclusion'. The Danish government is providing just over one million euro of funding. The main difficulty being tackled is that many Danish children whose parents are poor, unemployed, have no education or are on welfare are at a greater risk of having developmental and wellbeing problems and of being excluded from society in later life. The project is being carried out with three Danish preschool teacher training colleges and is aimed at 120 day care centres developing new practices for children aged between three and six years old. These colleges run training courses for directors of day care centres and one member of staff. The Department of Education runs seminars just for the directors. The cost (travel and paid time off) of sending the staff and directors to these events is picked up by the four Danish municipalities involved in the project. Over the three years of the project, a director and one member of staff from each day care centre will have spent 17 days on training courses and directors will have spent another six days on seminars with other directors. Of the one million euro from the Danish government, one third of this is being used for the courses and seminars; a third for a study on the effects of the project and a third on analysis and administration.
Since 1990, the number of childcare facilities in Lithuania has fallen from more than 1800 in 1990 to only 672 by 2008. The decline was particularly pronounced in rural areas, where they have been reduced from 805 to 183 (compared with a decline from 1003 to 489 in urban areas). A village kindergarten near Vilnius has shown that it is possible to reduce stress on parents and improve education and care for children by integrating several services in a single facility. Childcare facilities in Lithuania are normally open for between 10.5 and 12 hours per day for five days a week. The Peledziukas Kindergarten is located in a village nearby Vilnius and is run by the regional municipality. As most other kindergartens it has always provided both childcare and education services all day (07:00 to 17:30) for children from three to seven years old. Since 2005, through participation in the ‘FORWARD: Seima ir darbas suderinami (Family and Work Reconciliation Development)’ project funded under the EU’s EQUAL programme, the Peledziukas Kindergarten has extended its hours. It now remains open overnight from 17:30 to 07:00 in order to meet the needs (assessed by survey) of parents who work evenings or nights. These services have been taken up by around 20 families with children at the centre.
'La Mallette des parents' [the parents' briefcase] is an ongoing project that is aimed at involving parents more in their children's education in around 80 schools. It is run by the Academie Creteil, which comes under the direct authority of the France's Ministry for Education. The Academie Creteil's responsibilities include regular inspections of schools in its catchment area, which is Seine et Marne, Seine St Denis and Val de Marne, close to Paris. It was set up to improve relations between parents and teachers to help parents understand more about how their child is taught so that they can contribute to their child's success at school. Project coordinator Marc Dreyfuss is in charge of a permanent working group of about ten or so people. He follows the different projects in each school and works on future ideas for the project as a whole.
The Youth Department of the German Gymnastics Federation (DTJ) and their partners launched the campaign “Kinderturnen” in 2006. Aim was to sensitise and educate for a better understanding of the importance of children’s physical activity and to encourage and motivate to be physically active. Many scientists stressed the lack of children’s physical activity and related it to overweight and obese children. This issue is still valid according to the recommendation of the 2nd German Children and Youth Sports Report (2008). The intention was to prove the importance of children’s gymnastics as a holistic approach in regard to a healthy development of children. The main components of the campaign “Kinderturnen” consisted of a testing and a counselling device. The testing device “Kinderturn-Test” was developed in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Bös and FoSS (University of Karlsruhe). The test consists of seven test items. The campaign reached 600.000 interested individuals and institutions within the test period 2006 to 2008.
Physical, mental and social well-being are basic requirements for a self-sufficient life, for integration, inclusion, participation and active involvement, as well as the ability to transfer these skills to the coming generations. Parents serve as indispensable role models to their children in this matter. In order to actively include parents in the learning process of their children, KiFa pursues an inclusive approach, which has a proven track record over the past 10 years. The target group for this program are young families, particularly migrant families and families in extraordinary situations. The main goal is to provide services to children between the ages of 1 and 6. Interventions occur mainly in day-care institutions (Kitas), whose services are offered free of charge for all families. The add-on concept for elementary schools reaches parents with elementary school children and provides ongoing long-term support to these families.
L’Oréal, a world cosmetics leader, employs 67,000 people internationally and 12,000 in France. As part of its social policy in favour of mothers and fathers of young children, the company operates a number of schemes designed to meet the needs of staff seeking a better quality of life and a better balance between work and family life. The first element in the L’Oréal policy for parents is the network of inter-company crèches located close to its sites and that operate in partnership with other companies and public bodies. All L''Oréal female employees on maternity leave also benefit from additional leave (known as “Schueller” leave after the company founder). This leave provides an extension of four weeks to the statutory maternal or adoption leave with wages paid in full by the company. L''Oréal also gives mothers and fathers of children aged under 12 years the option of benefiting from a scheme that enables them to take one, two, three or four Wednesdays off per month insofar as the organisation and operation of their service permits.
Latvia’s States Forests (LVM), which is owned by the government, was awarded a Family Friendly Merchant certificate in 2007. LVM manages commercially usable state-owned forests and, alongside its forest management activities (including selling timber), it offers hunting and recreation facilities and obtains seeds and planting stock to ensure forest regeneration. Up until 2008, Family Friendly Merchant status was awarded to companies that had put into practice family-friendly measures for their employees and families or for families using their services (or both). LVM fulfils all the requirements prescribed by law, such as longer holidays for families with three and more children or with disabled children and ten days leave granted to fathers after the birth of a child. It also gives parents a day off on the 1st September (the start of school year) plus pays out allowances for child birth and the start of a child’s first school year. LVM also periodically organises events for employees with their families, such as sports days in the summer and excursions to leisure facilities. Children are also given Christmas presents such as tickets for the whole family to go to the theatre, the cinema or a circus.
The Lifestart Growing Child Programme is a structured child-centred programme of information and practical activity for parents of children aged from birth to five years of age. It is delivered to parents in their own homes by trained, paid Family Visitors and it is offered to parents regardless of social, economic or other circumstances.
Local authorities, companies and social organisations have been working together since 2003 to develop family-friendly practices in a German government initiative called ‘Lokale Bündnisse für Familie’ (Local Alliances for Families). The initiative aims to address the lack of childcare and strengthen a family-friendly infrastructure at the local level by facilitating cooperation and exchange of experience between companies, social organisations and municipalities.
In 2004, the Latvian government launched an Action Plan on family policy, set to continue until 2013. A central feature of the strategy is to develop alternative child-care services in a local government framework. To this end, babysitter agencies were to be created in local municipalities, tasked with providing information to families on babysitter services that are available in their local areas.The city of Liepaja, on Latvia''s Baltic coast, is one of many in the country to face a significant lack of pre-school child care places. In 2008, there was a shortfall of 2,000 places – a number that is strikingly high for a city of about 90,000 inhabitants. The Liepaja Babysitters Agency, which was created in the framework of the national strategy to tackle the childcare shortage issue at local level helps to ensure that more families have better access to child-minding services, but also that parents do not have to bear all the expenses for quality services. The local government of Liepaja provides financial support to the agency, which depends to some extent on the level of local parents'' uptake of its services.
Austria's Federal Ministry of the Economy, Family and Youth has been fully funding and running a parental education website since 2001. Initially, the website was part of an awareness-raising campaign to introduce the concept of parental education to mothers and fathers and to encourage them to sign up for parental education programmes. The aim of parental education is to help ensure that children are brought up in a violence-free environment and to prevent difficulties in daily parent-child relations. The website, which is free of charge, provides information about the significance of parental education and provides opportunities for exchanges with other parents and experts. In addition, weekly news items, monthly focuses and literature and tips for weblinks encourage further reading.
Hungarian telecoms provider Magyar Telekom has a child raising programme to help employees with small children return to work and a family aid programme that supports Telekom employees as they enrol their children in day nursery and day care centres and childcare facilities for summer vacations. Employees can ask for advice, on an anonymous basis, to help them deal with problems in their private life or workplace problems in an employee consulting programme. Families of Magyar Telekom employees can also go on vacation to the company''s holiday centres, apply for school start support and take part in the company''s Family Day and sports programmes.
The overall aim of the "Erfolgsfaktor Familie" (The Family: a Factor for Success) programme is to make family-friendliness a defining feature of the German economy. The idea is to offer employers advice on of how they can organise their activities in such a way that employees can better balance their family and working lives.
Maximising Income project was developed to support families enrolled in the Home-Start program. Financial hardship is a key factor in the lives of many of the young families that Home-Start supports. The Maximising Income project was set up in response to this and to explore whether some of these families may not be accessing all the welfare benefits and charitable grants available to them. The main tools and services used to support families in the Maximising Income project were an online benefits checker and a grants search. A free, confidential telephone helpline was also used and this provided customised support to undertake benefits checks, grants searches and to provide support for using the online services.
Information drawn from Barrett, Helen, and Elizabeth Young. Working Together to Maximise Income for Families of Young Children: Evaluation Report. September 2011.
MEND offers free, evidence-based obesity prevention and treatment programmes in the local community for children aged 2-13. Established in 2004, the MEND Programme was devised by child obesity experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the University College London Institute of Child Health, to help children and their families become fitter, healthier and happier. MEND works with local, regional and national partners to deliver over 400 programmes across the world which have benefitted over 20,000 families. In addition to MEND's healthy lifestyle programmes for children and their families, MEND offers class room resources, obesity management training for front-line staff and facilitated self-help programmes for adults. An independent study published in Obesity Journal in February found that children who attended the MEND Programme experienced long-term health benefits, including sustained weight loss and improvements in cardiovascular fitness and self-esteem.
France is suffering from a severe shortage of crèche places for children under the age of three. In response, the government launched a plan designed to create between 200,000 and 400,000 new childcare places by 2012. One of the recommended solutions is Micro-crèches. These new structures are easy to set up, inexpensive and particularly welcome in rural areas. Two child carers, one working just a short distance from the other, can pool their efforts, select some premises, submit a file to the PMI (Protection Maternelle et Infantile - Mother and Child Protection) and very soon have their micro-crèche up and running. These micro-structures accept a maximum of nine children of less than six years of age and employ three staff with at least two years’ experience of working with very young children. They can also be set up by an association or local authority. These structures have existed since 2007.
The city of Modena (IT) has an innovative way to support families. Those with three or more children under 18 years of age and annual income of less than €80,000 can receive a “Family Card”. This subscription scheme, which is free of charge, began in 2006 and has been growing in popularity, both by cardholders and the participating companies offering benefits. Modena Family Card holders are eligible for variable rebates and discounts by showing the card along and an identification document at the time of payment (with the participating vendors). The Card also allows holders a 30% discount on bread at participating bakeries. Also, families with annual incomes of less than €40,000 are entitled to an additional 10% discount for spending up to €350 per month at certain outlets, such as the large national supermarket chain, Conad. Other types of merchants and vendors involved in the Family Card scheme include clothing retailers, home electronics stores, sports outlets, jewellers, restaurants, banks, pharmacies and clinics. The Modena City Council, together with a private bank, formally back the scheme and facilitate Family Card subscriptions with more the than 100 participating companies. Though the target group is large, low and medium-income families, the Family Card is also extended to non-married couples with three or more children in Modena. This feature is unique for Italy, which typically only recognises a family as one that is legally married.
The ‘Mother friendly company’ award is the second phase of the ‘To have a child in Poland’ campaign, jointly organised by ‘Dziecko’, ‘Poradnik Domowy’ and the Humane Birth Foundation. Maria Kaczynska, the wife of Poland’s former president, is the patron of the campaign. The reason for it is the demographic situation in Poland, in which fewer children are born and fewer parents choose to have more then one baby. Its main aim is to single out and promote companies that help young women with motherhood while at the same time giving them an opportunity to fulfil their careers. The ‘Mother friendly company’ award is financed by the Agora company, one of the biggest media groups in Poland. It was launched in 2005 by the editorial departments of monthly publications ‘Poradnik Domowy’ (housekeeping) and ‘Dziecko’ (a magazine for parents), both of which are published by the company. Agora promotes long-term projects such as additional paid maternity leave, flexible work schedules, job-sharing, teleworking and flexible working arrangements when mothers return to work (working part-time and gradually increasing their work time).
The website is addressed to parents with small children.It provides information in particular on: contact details, characteristics and costs of collective and individual childcare arrangements which are situated close to the parents’ home, and on available allowances. In some regions, it is recently possible to submit a request concerning childcare arrangement online.
Mobilizing stakeholders in the childcare and youth sector (Cnaf and the network of Family Allowance Offices (CAF), local authorities, associations, companies, professionals, etc.) around an innovative project is the key success factor.
The organisation of the Family branch structured in a network of family allowance offices (National Family Allowance Office and a network of Family Allowance Offices) makes it possible to implement a national project supported by the local actors such as the CAF in terms of database supply, partner adherence, promotion of the site at the local level...hence, there is a need for local intermediaries to support the development of a national initiative.The creation of a website containing information on a national level makes it possible to realize economies of scale by avoiding separate and non-harmonised action of territorial authorities in this regard.The deployment of the website in various steps has made it possible to enrich the supply of available services resulting in relatively extensive panoply of services offered for families: general information as well as information on availability, cost, and request submission. The territorial organisation of the information in an optimal manner can be a solid basis for early childhood-related public service: the website mon-enfant.fr forms a part of this, by promoting access to information to all families.It means better structuration of service offer as sought by the Cnaf in the field of family policies.
Polish companies can enter an annual competition from which they will gain feedback on what mothers think about the company. The ‘Mother at work’ competition is organised by the St Nicholas Foundation. It was set up in late 2006 to raise the standards in terms of how mothers are treated in the workplace, to help mothers better reconcile their working and family lives and to counter discrimination by employers and employees against female employees with children.
The primary goal of the Programme in Support of Motherhood is to create conditions for improving employment prospects and career development for mothers of young children. Individual childcare from a registered unemployed person for the period of the maternity leave is provided, and when a mother is willing to return to her job before the end of the maternity leave, her child can be taken care of by an unemployed person. Under this scheme, the maternity leave benefits of the mother are in turn paid to the carer while the mother receives her salary. Target groups for the Bulgarian programme are people registered as unemployed with the labour office and mothers who are on maternity leave and are entitled to corresponding benefits. The mother has the right to choose the unemployed person who will take care of her child.
The Netherlands Youth Institute (Dutch: Nederlands Jeugdinstituut) is the Dutch national institute for compiling, verifying and disseminating knowledge on children, parenting and families. Its main aim is to improve the physical, cognitive, mental and social development of children and young people by improving the quality and effectiveness of the services rendered to them and to their parents or carers. Its main areas of expertise include:
•Effective parenting and healthy child developments
•Challenges in parenting and child development
•Guidelines, effective interventions and instruments
•Strengthening professionals working with children and families
•The child welfare system, its purpose and functions
As such, the institute covers areas such as child and youth welfare, youth care, health, justice and children's development and well-being. It is the Dutch national specialist on parenting support, community schools, child abuse and early child education.
Set up in 2000, Netmums is an online parenting organisation in the UK, which has notched up 700,000 members and has 15,000 new members joining up each month. The organisation is a family of local websites that span the country. Each local website offers information essential to life as a mother to children. This includes where to find childminders and playgroups, how to eat healthily and even where to meet other mothers. Netmums receives funding through the ‘Parent Know How programme’ , which is supported by UK government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).
The British New Dad project aims to equip expectant young fathers between the ages of 16 and 20 with the necessary skills to become good fathers. The project supports them providing advice and mentoring before and after the birth of their children. The objective is to encourage them to play an active role in their children’s lives. New Dad, which is based in South London, has strong links with a local hospital. It works with antenatal services at Guy's and St Thomas’ hospital to engage the young fathers-to-be at an early stage. An essential part of the project’s work has been running training sessions with midwives, who initially lacked confidence in engaging young fathers, partly due to a lack of experience of working with young men. This has been crucial to the success of the project as it has transformed the way expectant young fathers experience ante-natal care and has embedded the New Dad project into local maternity services. The result of this is that New Dad has managed to combine outreach with innovative engagement strategies to recruit and retain participants. It has successfully helped over 110 men adjust to fatherhood. These young fathers, mostly African-Caribbean men, are traditionally considered hard-to-reach and have low engagement with public services.
There are 1.84 million lone parents in Great Britain, with over 1 million of these in work. The majority of remaining lone parents can claim Income Support (the main income replacement benefit for lone parents) or other out of work benefits such as Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance. Currently there are around 700,000 lone parents claiming Income Support and over half of them are unemployed. For the past twelve years, the British government has been trying to address this problem through the New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP) programme. It is a voluntary programme that aims to help and encourage lone parents to improve their job readiness and employment opportunities and gain independence through working. Those eligible to join the programme include all lone parents aged 16 or over whose youngest child is under 16, those who are not working, or are working less than 16 hours per week and receive Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance.
Queuing for childcare places is common in Estonia: nearly half of local governments report a shortage of kindergarten places. The available facilities for toddlers do not meet demand and are not flexible enough to satisfy the needs of mothers who – mostly working full-time – seek to manage work and family responsibilities. The Estonian Development Partnership “Children Taken Care of, Mothers at Work” does what its name indicates: creating new, alternative childcare services to enable young mothers to participate in the labour market. An additional aspect of the Estonian childcare situation was associated with childminders: when the “Children Taken Care of, Mothers at Work” project began in 2005, there were no professional childminders in Estonia. Also, there was no professional qualification system for childminders or an institution which could grant official certification. Establishing this missing link in the Estonian childcare system is a top policy priority: “The best ideas are those which help to solve several problems at once,” says Paul-Eerik Rummo, former Minister of Population and Ethnic Affairs. “By developing new flexible childcare opportunities, we will provide a supplementary incentive to the increase in births that is already underway in Estonia. At the same time we will improve the employment situation, particularly for women, and alleviate the risks related to the lack of qualified labour that threaten the country’s economic competitiveness. Our policies will create a new basis guaranteeing that families can cope financially and emotionally,” Mr Rummo says.
A childcare centre run by the Community Welfare Council Ergaton, in Nicosia, is one of the few NGO centres in Cyprus to stay open for children aged two to five during school holidays (from 7am to 7pm). Holiday care is difficult to find and the only other option is for parents to pay for more expensive private services. The facility is subsidised by the government but parents pay around €87 per month per child to use the centre. Exceptions can be made for parents in a difficult situation. There are two childcare staff for every 15 children. During term time, the centre looks after pre-school children (aged two to five) in the early mornings and in the afternoons from 12 noon until 6pm. On average, from 25 to 30 children attend during the summer holidays. Children are given an afternoon meal and supervised care. After lunch, many indoor and outdoor activities (e.g. arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor sport and music) are organised for them.
Malta's public employment service, the Employment Training Corporation (ETC), is running a two-year multimedia campaign called 'Nista' to encourage more women to enter and remain in the labour market. The campaign runs from October 2010 until September 2012. It is part of Malta's National Reform Programme under Europe's 2020 strategy and seeks to tackle the problem of gender stereotyping in Malta, whereby men tend to go to work while women tend to stay at home to look after the family. The partners are: the Malta Association of Women in Business, the European Social Fund Agency Flanders, the Prime Minister's Office, the National Family Commission, the Malta Federation of Industry, the Malta Employers Association and the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality.
The Nuffield Early Language Intervention is an evidence-based oral language intervention for children in nursery and reception who show weakness in their oral language skills and who are therefore at risk of experiencing difficulty with reading. It is delivered over 30 weeks by teaching assistants in groups of 3-4 children.
The Swedish Online Youth Clinic (OMU) is a website whose overall aim is to improve young people’s access to information related to sexual health and gender issues. It was set up in November 2008 and is run by the ‘Council for Care’, a non-commercial organisation funded by the Swedish regions. In Sweden, most regions have youth clinics, which specialise in sexual health and psychiatric care and are staffed by a range of professionals including, midwifes, therapists and social workers. The success of these clinics led them to decide to set up a website, which young women and men aged between 13 and 25 can turn to for advice and services regarding birth control, pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease tests.
The Opstap Opnieuw programme is a home-based intervention developed from the Israeli Home Instruction Programme for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) for the Dutch context. The two-year programme aims to improve the cognitive and language skills, numeracy, mother-child interactions, and socio-emotional development of young children, aged 4 to 6, who are at risk of early academic failure based on low socio-economic background or ethnic minority status. The programme materials were particularly developed for Turkish and Moroccan families, in their native languages. The programme consists of a structured “curriculum” of short-term goals and related activities that increase in complexity over time. The curriculum is presented in textual and pictorial weekly instructions and worksheets along with supplemental materials such as audiotapes and pencils, totalling 150 planned 20-minute activities for 30 weeks of the year, for two years. The mothers are supported by paraprofessional aides who were also mothers from the local and ethnic community. The paraprofessionals visit the families biweekly while the programme was in session to give instruction, support, monitor that program activities were taking place, and monitor the progress of the mother and child. A few paraprofessionals conducted meetings of a small group of mothers instead of visiting their homes. There are additionally monthly group meetings for participating mothers to provide information about authoritative, emotionally supportive, sensitive-responsive mother-child interaction styles. The program was developed in the Netherlands in the 1990’s and continues to operate today. The program is operated by the Averroès Foundation.
Oral Health Prevention Program is a community-based preventive approach for improving oral health in preschool children. The program was implemented in Vorarlberg, Austria by providing new mothers with dental health counseling. Qualified dental health educators visited all mothers who gave birth in regional hospitals in Vorarlberg, Austria, counseling them regarding the oral health of their children. The single visit took place while mothers were still in the hospital. Mothers were given comprehensive oral hygiene instructions for their children and themselves, which included practical toothbrush training and dietary counseling by the use of brief motivational interviewing and anticipatory guidance approaches.
After 5 years, a case-cohort study was conducted to evaluate the program with annual check-ups of 471 children and parents survey. Dental caries was scored using WHO diagnostic criteria. Children whose mothers participated in the oral health promotion program showed significantly lower caries prevalence and experience than children whose mothers did not participate.
Global telecoms and internet provider France Telecom Orange offers employees extra days off, on full pay, to look after their children when they are sick. The company offers six days off per year if their baby or child (under 12 years old) is sick and one more day off per year for each extra child. If both parents work at the company, together they can take up to a maximum of 12 days off per year to look after their sick child. Single parents can take up to 12 days off plus two extra days for each child. Parents do not need to give prior notice but can call up their manager on the day to say that their baby is sick.
Portugal’s Associação Nacional para a Acção Familiar (ANJAF), a non-profit association whose aim is to encourage solidarity between young people, their families and the community, has been running a parental training project since 2007. The main aim is to increase the knowledge and skills of parents (or anyone with a parental role) and to raise awareness about the importance of parental figures in the development of children/youth. All the parental training sessions are free of charge for fathers, mothers or staff that provide support to families. Usually the individual attends either a seven hour or a three hour session. Several three hour workshops on different subjects can be held for the same group if there is an interest in doing that. Flexible hours for training sessions All the sessions are scheduled in advance and can take place during office hours (for staff at their workplace or for unemployed parents or) or after work. The workshops are usually one session of three hours with a break in the middle. Longer training sessions are usually split into two sessions of 3.5 hours. Whenever ANJAF’s sessions are not carried out for a specific organisation, they are always advertised on its website and in ANJAF’s newsletters. 39 training sessions in two years.
France’s Parenthood Charter was officially launched in April 2008 at the French Ministry for Labour, Social Relations, the Family and Solidarity. SOS Prema (which supports parents who have had premature babies), cosmetics company L’Oréal and human resources expert Jérôme Ballarin decided to set up the charter to encourage more and more companies to make commitments to help employees with families balance their work and family lives better. The actions in the charter cover four major areas: services to support employees’ daily lives (e.g. crèches in companies); financial support (e.g. benefit payments for employees); work organisation (e.g. part-time work, flexi-time, working from outside the office) and human resources and managerial support. Employers wanting to sign the charter can apply by filling in an online form on www.observatoire-parentalite.com setting out their existing and planned parenthood-friendly actions. There is no fee for signing up.
Parenting Young Children (PYC) was developed by the Parenting Research Centre as an education program to help parents with intellectual disability develop skills and confidence in parenting tasks. The skills include basic child care such as feeding, sleeping and safety, and parent–child interactions. PYC is a home-based intensive parent education programme, ideally structured around weekly sessions. Parents are taught to plan stimulating play and learning activities, engaging the child in these activities through positive attention, praise, descriptive statements and modelling. The programme also teaches parents to acquire and maintain skills in childcare, food preparation and handling, meal-time issues, shopping, nutrition, bathing, bedtime and sleeping, personal hygiene, health monitoring, emergency management, safety and living space maintenance. Since each programme is individually tailored based on parent-driven goals, and as all parents have their own individual learning pace, there is no predetermined session length or number of sessions.
Information drawn from Mikaela Starke, Catherine Wade, Maurice A Feldman, and Robyn Mildon. "Parenting with disabilities: Experiences from implementing a parenting support programme in Sweden."
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities,June 2013, vol. 17 no. 2. pp. 145-156
Our peer project is organized in the following way. At first a group of pupils aged 14 to 18 years is educated in a workshop developed by our institution. This workshop runs for 6 days. The pupils learn to speak in front of groups, to deal with conflicts, to develope ideas for projects and to organize these projects for younger pupils. Next these peers offer so called project days for children. In the second year the peer-projects will become more complex. In the first year the peers are supported by adults (coaches). As soon as they are able to get along, they do all the project organisation on their own. Our aim is to get young people in contact with volunteer work in general. Therefore we teach pupils at school to engage themselves for project work and the work with children between 8 and 12 years. They do this in their freetime. When they work on projects in the neighbourhood, they learn to network. The peergroup also learns, to make presentations and to present their work on the internet or in newspapers. The whole project runs minimum two years. So the pupils obtain more and more selfconfidence.
Phoenix Contact, a manufacturer of electric connection and industrial automation technology, has been offering its European and US employees a very flexible working time system since 1992. “It is good because it helps people organise their private lives better and we are convinced that that makes them more motivated to be successful in the company,” says Prof. Dr. Gunther Olesch, the Executive Vice president of Phoenix Contact. The company, which has 11,000 employees, has its headquarters in Blomberg, Germany, has four industrial plants in Germany, six plants and 47 sales subsidiaries outside Germany. Each employee has an electronic card which they use to check in and out of work. On average, under an agreement between the German employers and trade unions, an employee in this industry needs to work 35 hours per week. However, they can work zero hours one week and up to 48 hours (eight hours x six days, i.e. including Saturday) another week. At any given moment, an employee can have a maximum of +140 hours on their card (i.e. they owe the company 140 hours worth of work) and a minimum of -70 hours (i.e. the company owes them 70 hours of time off).
The Estonian Pregnancy Crisis Counselling project aims to develop a country-wide service which respects each person’s right to personal family planning decisions and meets strict confidentiality and anonymity requirements.The Pregnancy Crisis Counselling service offers psychological support and information on various topics in addition to pregnancy, such as conflict in marriage, how to be a supportive mother or father, infertility issues, domestic violence during pregnancy, and mourning in case of the death of a child or an adult.
Preparing for Life (PFL) is a five-year home visiting program targeted at disadvantaged families with children, beginning at pregnancy until the child starts school at age four or five. PFL home visitors provides families with developmental toys for children and public health information on stress control and eating habits, facilitates access to enhanced preschool, and provides access to and a support worker that provides information on public services. Additionally, the programme includes weekly home visits that last between 30 minutes to two hours from a trained mentor and a portion of the Triple P group parent training. The home visiting portion focuses on providing parents with general support and help with parenting issues. The Triple P Positive Parent programme that parents receive a portion of is a separate programme that was integrated into PFL and occurs when the child is two-years old and lasts for eight weeks, consisting of four two-hour in-person sessions, three phone support sessions, and one culminating group session about positive parenting. PFL was developed in 2004 and has served about 200 families.
Fathers can take time off work and continue to be paid at PricewaterhouseCoopers Netherlands. In September 2008, the Dutch branch of the international auditing and consulting company introduced two measures particularly geared to helping fathers combine their working and family life. The first allows fathers to take up to ten fully paid days off to look after a newly born child. The one condition is that they must have taken the days off before the child is five months old. In case of female couples, this option is also available to the partner who is not the biological mother. Such an arrangement for partner''s leave is quite unique. In the first nine months of its existence, 176 parents used the fully paid paternity leave.
The British government and the Fatherhood Institute (the UK''s fatherhood think-tank) have run a public campaign seeking to build up the expectation of fathers'' involvement within public services from the child’s birth, through children''s centres in the early years, in schools and within society more generally. “The Campaign aims to bring home the messages to families, public services and the voluntary services that parental responsibilities should be shared equally among parents and that we can reverse the outdated and out of touch assumption that dads are a bolt-on family accessory – nice to have but not essential” said Beverley Hughes in 2008, the then UK Children''s Minister. Research carried out in the UK shows that children who grow up with strong father figures are less likely to get into crime, take drugs, grow up with mental health problems or struggle to form relationships.
Parents in Denmark are entitled to take one paid day off work each time their child is ill. Children are however often ill for longer periods and many parents struggle to find a carer to look after their children when they need to return to work. This common problem has inspired an innovative response: recruiting support from local senior citizens. Under the voluntary ‘Reserve Grandparent Scheme’, retired older people are invited to step in and care for sick children when their parents need to get back to work. The Danish Ministry of Social Welfare manages the financing of the scheme, which benefitted from €650,000 of government support in 2008. ‘Reserve Grandparent Scheme’ initiatives are supported in seven locations across Denmark. One of these is in the municipality of Gladsaxe and is managed by a local non-profit association. The scheme operates under a maximum ratio of five families per participating grandparent. Currently, five grandparents offer standby support to 25 families in the town. The demand for substitute grandparents outstrips the supply.
Since 2006, the mattress-manufacturing company Schlaraffia has been helping fathers and grandfathers in Wattenscheid deal with difficult family-related situations and has been making childcare leave for fathers more attractive through a ‘Fathers and Careers’ project. 140 of the 310 people employed at the Wattenscheid plant are men, of which 40 are fathers or grandfathers. Around 25 or so fathers or grandfathers have taken part in the project. “What we offer is also open to mothers,” said Karin Meder, the Workers’ Council Chairwoman.
Developed in 2005 and first run as a pilot in 2006, the programme's objectives were:
1) To provide young people with facts about alcohol
2) To raise awareness of the dangers of underage drinking
3) To delay the onset of regular drinking among those who are under the legal drinking age
STOP4-7 is an early intervention for children (aged 4 to 7) with (serious) behavioral problems. The programme consists of three group training interventions: for the children (10 whole day sessions), the parents (10 2-hour sessions) and the teachers (4 3-hour sessions) involved. Besides these training sessions, homevisits and schoolvisits are also part of the programme. The first phase consists of training sessions (three months): learning of skills and enhancing parents and teachers. Some home and school visits help to individualize the learning process. The second phase (home and school visits; three months) is aimed at strenghtening the changes accomplished in the first phase. To help children grow up in a prosocial way it is necessary to include parents and teachers to help them, by changing their living and learning environment.
Mobile Jugendarbeit Stuttgart, aims to improve the personal living situation of children and adolesccents through helping them to be self-sufficient, confident, and able to work in a team. The focus is to reintegrate these at-risk youth into society and to help them overcome delinquency. Much like street workers, consultants that are part of Mobile Jugendarbeit visit high-risk neighborhoods and develop mentoring relationships with the local youth, building a network of trust and support. Moreover, one of their most critical tasks is to point out options in life and to become a positive influence on the community.
The Sheffield-based ‘Father figures’ project was started in 2000 by Nacro, an NGO working on crime reduction, to focus on supporting fathers. At the time, care provision in Sheffield prioritised the primary carer, which was usually the mother, to the exclusion of considering the roles of men and the influence they can have in children’s lives. The project aimed to provide a dedicated support service for fathers, especially young, inexperienced and first-time fathers. Another objective was to network with care services in order to promote better understanding of fathers and to develop referral mechanisms, as well as mainstreaming fatherhood issues into agencies’ policies and practice. In doing so it was building on best practice guidelines developed by the Fathers Direct organisation, now the Fatherhood Institute, a UK-based think tank specialising in fatherhood issues and public policy. One of the main challenges was the lack of familiarity with fathers and addressing issues of fatherhood among social services and agencies. The project worked with a wide range of families: fathers with older children, young fathers, married or non-resident, fathers of children who offend and fathers of different cultural backgrounds.
Sure Start Children’s Centres are a vital part of the UK government’s ten-year strategy to offer wider access to affordable, flexible and high-quality childcare. Launched in 2004, the strategy also aims to develop the workforce involved in childcare in order to make it among the best in the world. Next Steps for Early Learning and Childcare, a new strategy, published on 28 January 2009, reviews progress since the 2004 10-year strategy and outlines the path ahead to improve early learning and childcare. The objectives of Sure Start Children''s Centres are to improve outcomes for young children as set out in the UK government’s Every Child Matters: Change for Children Programme, with a particular focus on reducing the inequalities between disadvantaged children and the rest, and helping to bring an end to child poverty. Sure Start Children’s Centres reflect a new approach because they offer more than just care of children under the age of five. They are one stop central hubs providing young children and their families easy access to family support and health care services, advice and support for parents including drop in sessions, outreach services, integrated early education and childcare (in children’s centres serving the most disadvantaged areas and optional elsewhere) and links through to training and employment advice. The intensity of services offered by each children’s centre will vary according to the level of disadvantage in the area.
TDC is Denmark’s largest telecoms operator, with activities throughout the Nordic region (Norway, Sweden and Finland). The company serves some 8.6 million domestic customers and employs 8000 people in Denmark alone. As one of the country’s largest companies, TDC recognises that it has responsibilities towards Danish society: customers and investors, but also its employees. A cornerstone of TDC’s corporate social responsibility is its focus on gender equality. In 2009, TDC joined the Danish Ministry for Employment and Department for Gender Equality''s ‘Charter for women in management’. The company’s CEO Henrik Poulsen has also been appointed an ‘Ambassador of Gender Equality’ by the Danish Industries Association and the Minister for Gender Equality.
Slovakia’s Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family set up a family-friendly business award in 2000 to recognise employers who create working conditions that take into consideration the family obligations of their employees. The award was created to give public awards to companies who give systematic attention to the reconciliation of work and family life. The project is funded by the department of gender equality and equal opportunities, which is part of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family.
Designed by NAPR and funded by the DoE, the Helping Families Programme is a parenting intervention launced in 2010 to improve outcomes for families with primary-school-aged children (5-11 years old) at risk of school exclusion and suffering from severe and persistent conduct problems help their children break with chronic and severe non-compliance, aggression, destructiveness and violation of social rules such as lying and bullying that are associated with negative future outcomes.
The Second North Karelia Youth Project was a structured program of information and behavioural training sessions for seventh and ninth graders, delivered in schools by teachers, health educators, and trained peer leaders. The program included information about nutrition, alcohol abuse and hazards associated with smoking. The program sessions included role-playing and demonstrations accompanied by written and audio-visual materials. The school sessions were accompanied by a TV series called "Keys to Health" produced by a group of volunteer parents which was broadcast during the school year. Additionally, the program was publicized in newspapers over the course of the program and evaluation period. The program was designed to give children the information and preparation to resist social pressures to smoke or abuse alcohol, and to make healthy diet choices.
The Italian region of Emilia Romagna has set up a work and family life balance programme which aims to help young parents and families who have to look after disabled or elderly persons. The programme involves a range of different services adapted to the realities that face local families. They include day-care centres for children aged under three, vouchers for childcare time and allowances for parents who decide to stop working to look after their children for the first year after birth. The time banks project is part of this programme. This initiative works as a time exchange system where hours are used as a unit of measurement for local families to exchange services that support their everyday lives. Opening an account is free. Each new account holder “pays in” a certain number of hours to the bank, which are then made available to other members. In exchange for this debit, the account holders receive time credit equivalent to the amount paid in, and can then call on ad hoc services in line with their needs. The type of exchange varies greatly. The offered services include such tasks as taking a child to the library, providing household help for disabled persons, helping to obtain an administrative document or preparing a meal.
Total E-Quality (TEQ), a non-profit association, aims to see more women in management roles by striving for better work-life balance, equal opportunities in personnel recruitment and development, and the institutionalisation of equal opportunities within organisations. TEQ seeks out and rewards “hidden champions”: companies or organisations whose human resource policies put equality into practice. The Total E-Quality label was first awarded in 1997, and has been endorsed by the federal government since 2001. To date, 299 organisations – employing well over 2 million people between them – have received the award, with a further 60 due to be awarded in 2010.
We have reviewed the most effective interventions for promoting health weights among youn children, and conducted a pilot intervention in the six countries named above. An effort was made to include low socio-economic status families. We are still assessing the detailed results, but the first results look promising, and a cost-effectiveness analysis suggests it is very cost-effective.
VauDe is an outdoor and mountaineering supplier specialising in the manufacture and distribution of outdoor equipment for activities such as hiking, rock-climbing, skiing and cycling. This family-owned company, which was founded in 1974, currently employs in Germany 520 employees, 67% of whom are women. VauDe works to implement the best possible family-friendly measures and tools. In 2001, VauDe opened its own company-level childcare centre, the Kinderhaus. Up to 30 children aged one to ten attend on a daily basis between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., all year round, either full or part-time. The centre takes in both children and grandchildren of the employees. For this corporate engagement, VauDe received the prize “Freiheit und Verantwortung (Freedom and Responsibility)”. Since the opening of the childcare centre, the number of births among the company''s employees has increased four-fold. Lunch is provided not only for children but also for parents if they wish to have lunch with them. The Kinderhaus also offers a range of parent-child activities. This saves parents from transporting their children to and from various activities.
Introduced in 2009, childcare-service vouchers (Chèques-Service Accueil) in Luxembourg form the “first piece in the puzzle that makes up free childcare” according to Marie-Josée Jacobs, Minister for Family and Integration. Under the scheme, all children under the age of 13, irrespective of household income, have access to a limited number of hours of free or subsidised childcare or after school activities. Children in vulnerable situations benefit from additional free or reduced-cost hours. Vouchers can be claimed by parents of all children who are resident in Luxembourg and aged 0-12 and/or still in primary education. Childcare-service vouchers can be used at half-way centres (or maisons –relais), crèches, daycare centres, nurseries and boarding schools as well as for the services of parental assistants. The scheme has also been extended to cover music schools and sports clubs within the child’s town or district of residence.
France is offering around 1.5 million moderate-income families €200 worth of vouchers that can be used for childcare, care for the elderly or care for the disabled. The measure is intended to help those most affected by the global economic crisis.
The Austrian government set up its ‘Work and family audit’ scheme in 1998 to help companies create a family-friendly environment so that employers cater better for the family-related needs of employees. Under the scheme, companies can receive a ‘Work and family audit’ certificate. The Austrian Family Ministry sets the scope of the audit, and the regulations and compliance to be audited, while the state-owned enterprise ‘Familie und Beruf [Family and Job] Management GmbH’ runs the audit by, for example, training external freelance auditors. An auditor first identifies company needs through discussions with management and employees, leading to the establishment of a company plan, with goals to be achieved in a set period. In general, the process from time of application to receipt of the certificate takes no longer than six months. After three years, an external auditor assesses achievements and, if the assessment is positive, the company receives the certificate for another three years.
YouthBanks are an all-island Irish initiative through which young people aged between 12 and 25 invite other young people in the same age group to come up with and run projects that address issues and concerns relevant to them and their community. The average age of those responsible for deciding whether or not a given project receives a grant is 17 or 18. It was set up as a pilot in Northern Ireland in 1999 before being rolled out across Ireland in 2006 after Ulster Bank stepped in with €1.9 million of investment. The central idea of YouthBanks is to build on young people’s skills and experiences to enable them to reach their full potential, to play a full part in their own communities and to become active citizens.
Denmark has set up a youth guidance system to help young people up to 25 years old make the transition from compulsory school to youth education and from education to the labour market. The primary focus of youth guidance centres across Denmark is to provide those who have not started youth education (upper secondary or vocational education) or who have dropped out of youth education with educational guidance. The system has been up and running since 2004. The Danish government’s core objective is to make it easier for the young people to make realistic decisions about learning opportunities and careers for their sake and for the good of society as a whole. Each individual pupil in the 9th and 10th grade at school (i.e. aged 15 and 16) is legally obliged to fill in an educational plan for themselves. The form, which contains information about where the pupil wants to continue with education and what kind of job they would like, is sent to the upper secondary school or vocational school that they decide to attend after compulsory school. There is no checklist to determine whether the pupils’ expectations are realistic but guidance counsellors give the best advice they can to the pupils to that they make the right choice for them. The upper secondary or vocational school uses the document for information purposes (e.g. that the pupil may have literacy problems) and as a basis from which to give the pupil further guidance.
Italian legislation provides for maternity leave of up to four months after the birth of the child. During that period, mothers are paid their full salary, with 80% of it paid by the government and the remaining 20% by the company). They can then opt to take parental leave for a maximum of six months, but they are only paid 30% of their salary for that period. In order to promote a more equal sharing of responsibilities within families, the arrangements for fathers are more attractive – they can claim up to seven months of parental leave, for which the state pays them 70% of their salary. Since 2004, ZF Padova, the Italian plant of the German automotive industry supplier ZF has offered its employees with children an option to increase their income during parental leave. They can ask for money that has been paid in and set aside by the company for their severance pay to be paid out during this period of parental leave. This amount makes up the shortfall in their salary. So far, three women and one man have taken advantage of this option out of a total of around 240 employees with children. In total, ZF Padova employs around 360 people, of which 37 are women. Its parent company ZF has a workforce of some 61,000 employees and operates 125 plants in 26 countries. The policy is not the same for ZF globally as each plant applies its own rules. Since 2001, the company has allowed employees to plan their weekly working hours according to their personal needs. Employees do a maximum of 45 hours per week and can start any time between 6am and 9am as well as decide if they want to take a break of half an hour or an hour for lunch.