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Corporations Pledge Funds to Family Care

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A dozen major corporations have pledged to raise up to $30 million to expand both the availability and quality of child-care and elder-care services in areas where they have large concentrations of employees.

The new partnership, the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care, hopes either to expand existing dependent-care services or to construct new facilities in some 40 sites across the nation in the next few years.

Still in the planning stages, the project was launched last year after the International Business Machines Corporation convened a meeting of executives from about 40 companies known for their leadership in developing workplaces sensitive to family concerns.

The initiative came to light last month when information about the project was leaked to the Reuters news agency.

In interviews last month, representatives of participating corporations acknowledged the collaborative's existence. But they declined to give details pending a formal announcement of the project this fall.

Helping Employees

"Helping employees balance their work and personal lives is critical to economic and competitive growth and the ability to retain a productive and motivated workforce,'' said Barry Wanger, a spokesman for Work/Family Directions, a Boston-based consulting firm that will oversee the project.

Improved dependent-care services will also help companies attract qualified new employees, both male and female, said John Boudreaux, an I.B.M. spokesman. "This is not a women's issue, this is a workplace issue,'' he said.

Along with I.B.M., the 11 other companies participating in the collaborative include the Allstate subsidiary of Sears Roebuck & Company, the American Express Company, the Amoco Corporation, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Eastman Kodak Company, the Exxon Company U.S.A., Johnson & Johnson, Motorola Inc., the Nationsbank Corporation, The Travelers Companies, and Xerox Corporation, according to an official at one of the companies.

Several of the businesses have previous experience working together on child-care issues. I.B.M., American Express, and Allstate teamed up last year with a North Carolina developer to build a $2-million child-care center in Charlotte, N.C. Kodak and Xerox joined with a group of businesses in Rochester, N.Y., to provide training programs and group health insurance for day-care-center employees.

To date, the 12 partners have raised close to $20 million, an official at one of the companies said. The group also hopes to persuade other corporations to contribute financial support.

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