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Businesses Pledge $100 Million To Improve Child, Elder Care

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Building on an earlier initiative, an alliance of leading U.S. corporations announced last week that it will spend $100 million over the next six years to improve the availability of day care, after-school care, and elder care in 56 communities nationwide.

Three years ago, 12 corporations formed the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care, pledging $27 million to improve the quality and quantity of dependent-care programs in areas where they had large concentrations of employees. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

Since then, the alliance has expanded to 21 companies. In the initial phase, the group financed 355 projects in 45 communities. Slots are set aside for employees of the companies, but all the projects are open to the public.

"This is a generation of workers who are being squeezed by the need to provide for their children and for their parents," said John M. Morris, the director of media relations at Citicorp, one of the 21 corporations. "Society has changed in applying that pressure, but it has not yet developed the full resources for coping with it."

Sharing Expenses

The companies also will support research and development for pilot programs, such as a voice-mail project in the San Jose, Calif., school district designed to help working parents become involved in their children's education. The Bridge Project will provide voice-mail boxes for teachers to leave messages for parents about homework assignments and school activities.

While the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard Company is large, its 98,600 employees are spread out geographically, so the company cannot afford to create separate child-care or elder-care programs at every site, said Susan Moriconi, who manages such programs for Hewlett-Packard. But, with the collaboration, it can share the expense.

Michelle Seligson, who directs a child-care project at the Center for Research on Women at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass., called the initiative "extremely generous and forward-thinking."

"What's exciting is the depth of the understanding about what is necessary," she said.

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