In an announcement last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor put significant money — up to $25 million in grants — where President Obama’s mouth has been in his support of working families struggling with today’s workforce realities.
Essentially, the grants will support public-private partnerships that bridge gaps between local workforce-development and child-care systems. Funded programs will enable parents to access training and customized support services needed for jobs primarily in information technology, healthcare and advanced manufacturing, though not necessarily confined to just those three.
The money, according to the DOL, will become available to these partnerships beginning in the spring and will be aimed at helping parents obtain affordable, quality child care so they can “pursue education and training opportunities leading to good jobs in growing industries.”
As U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez puts it in his announcement of the initiative:
“For too many working parents, access to quality, affordable child care remains a persistent barrier to getting the training and education they need to move forward on a stronger, more sustainable career path. Our economy works best when we field a full team. That means doing everything we can to provide flexible training options and streamlined services that can help everyone in America realize their dreams.”
This move by the government certainly underscores the attention employers and work/life experts have been paying to the needs of working parents lately. A search of this HRE Daily site, starting with my post last week lamenting the slow motion paternity leave seems to be in, along with this search of our parental-leave news analyses on our magazine’s HREOnline™ site, shows this push — some might even call it competition — by organizations to prove they’re family-friendly will be a hot agenda item heading into 2016.
Hopefully, employers and government agencies can come together and really start engaging in a national dialogue as opposed to each entity trying to outdo the other.
This move by the DOL seems to be a step toward that coming-together idea. It stipulates that grants up to $4 million will be awarded to partnerships that include the public workforce system, education and training providers, business entities and local child-care or human-service providers; more importantly, the release states, “all partnerships must include at least three employers.”
Personally, if this truly does lead to my kids, and my kids’ kids, having more at their fingertips than I did to survive the chaos of young parenthood coupled with work and the constant struggle to get ahead, then the gift is for me too.