The workplace influences the healthy development of children and youth as both a place of employment for parents, as well as a resource in the community.

In recent years, more parents are participating in the labour force and many are working longer hours. Among families with children up to 17 years, in 1994:

 

  • Sixty-eight percent of families with two working parents have children under the age of five.
  • Sixty-one percent of parents in lone-parent families worked either part- or full-time. (184)

Seventy-two percent of respondents to a 1996 questionnaire reported that it is becoming harder to balance the demands of work and family. (232)

Balancing work-family time and energy is a major concern for many Canadians. Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to find the time and energy they would like to have for their children. Specific changes to employment policies and practices they would find helpful include:

  • increased options related to the number of hours worked, for example, part-time hours or job-sharing
  • flexibility in terms of which hours they work and where their work is done, for example, flex-time, compressed work week, or working at home
  • supportive supervisors who understand child development and have a mandate to be supportive of parenting responsibilities. (232, 233)

The range of options open to individual employers will vary with the size of the business. Sometimes, larger companies have greater flexibility and more resources to support their staff. What is needed, however, is industry-wide endorsement and commitment to family-friendly policies.

Helping families address family-work stress, is not just a matter of being "nice." It can affect productivity. Stressed workers who do not feel supported in the work place are absent more and are less satisfied with and motivated in their work. (232)

While individual employers can and should take steps to make workplaces more family-friendly environments for their employees, there also needs to be a broader social dialogue and consensus about the structure of work itself. (233)

Businesses are part of the fabric of community that supports many services and activities that contribute to the healthy development of children and youth. They contribute both staff time and funds to many community initiatives. Strategies that involve community-business partnerships have been included with information on community.


The first year of life is a critical time for infants to form secure and warm relationships with their primary caregivers. It is a period when family time is required to feed and care for new babies, get to know them and interact with them, and adjust other relationships and routines in the home to meet their needs and those of the parents.

Employment policies and practices can influence:

  • how much time parents spend with their infant
  • how long new mothers continue to breastfeed
  • the level of stress parents feel at home.

The chart below lists factors that influence children's healthy development in the first year of their lives.

The headings of each column indicate a positive outcome we would like children to achieve.

Under each heading factors are listed that influence that outcome.

Clicking on an underlined influence will open a window containing a list of strategies that workplaces can implement.

To return to the table, close the new window.

Physically healthy

Securely attached to parents and caregivers

Developing feelings and emotional control

Getting ready for language and learning

A healthy pregnancy

Adequate nutrition

Safe physical environment

Early detection and treatment of developmental problems
 

Sensitive attunement and involvement of parents and caregivers

Emotional health of parents and caregivers

Parents' beliefs and expectations

Sensitive attunement and involvement of parents and caregivers

Infant's temperament

Appropriate stimulation

Positive parenting skills

Safe and varied environment



In a 1988 survey only one-third of parents with the majority of the responsibility for childcare indicated they wanted to work full-time. Most preferred part-time work and some not to work at all. (233) Part-time work is an option sometimes taken by those who can afford it, but most part-time work is poorly paid and has few benefits.

The preschool period is an important time for parents and children. In their daily interaction with each other, parents and their children establish basic patterns of family relationships. These form the foundation of effective parenting in the years to come.

Employers can help reduce some of the stress parents feel through policies that allow for flexibility in working hours, include some days off for parenting responsibility and by ensuring that supervisors are trained and supportive of workers who have parenting responsibilities.

The chart below lists factors that influence children's healthy development as they prepare for school.

The headings of each column indicate a positive outcome we would like children to achieve.

Under each heading factors are listed that influence that outcome.

Clicking on an underlined influence will open a window containing a list of strategies that workplaces can implement.

To return to the table, close the new window.

Physically healthy

Age-appropriate social skills

Positive emotional health

Appropriate language and learning skills

Nutrition, exercise, medical care

Protection from injuries

Safe physical environment

Adequate financial resources

Relationship with parents and caregivers

Experiences with other adults

Experiences with other children

Secure attachment

Developing sense of competence

Supportive communities

Protection from abuse

Stimulating homes

Quality childcare and preschool education

Prepared primary schools


 


Young people who stay in school are more likely to get productive, enjoyable work. Workplaces can help by supporting schools and students with mentoring programs, by donating equipment and by assisting with extracurricular activities. Supportive workplaces also provide family-friendly policies that allow parents to spend enough time with their children.

The chart below lists factors that influence children's healthy development as they enter adolescence.

The headings of each column indicate a positive outcome we would like children to achieve.

Under each heading factors are listed that influence that outcome.

Clicking on an underlined influence will open a window containing a list of strategies that workplaces can implement.

To return to the table, close the new window.

A secure and integrated self-identity

Strong social skills

A commitment to learning and participating in school

The ability to make healthy choices

Adaptability

Supportive home environment

Support of significant others

Supportive learning and living environments

Media

Supportive home environment

Support of significant others

Supportive learning and living environments

Media

Supportive home environment


Support of significant others

Supportive learning and living environments

Media

Supportive home environment

Role models and peer support

Supportive learning and living environments

Media

Supportive home environment

Support of significant others

Supportive learning and living environments



 


Moving from school to work is an integral part of the transition to adulthood for most young people. Cooperative education, mentoring programs, apprenticeship programs and school curricula that teach work-related skills such as teamwork and problem-solving can help to smooth this transition. Workplaces need to support young workers and young parents with training and bridging initiatives and family-friendly policies.

The chart below lists factors that influence youth's healthy development as they approach adulthood.

The headings of each column indicate a positive outcome we would like children to achieve.

Under each heading factors are listed that influence that outcome.

Clicking on an underlined influence will open a window containing a list of strategies that workplaces can implement.

To return to the table, close the new window.

Prepared for work

Prepared for intimacy and family life

Prepared to participate in community life

Prepared to manage their personal health and well-being

Educational achievement

Opportunities to work learn work-related skills

Accessible employment opportunities

Opportunities to overcome disadvantages that lead to early school leaving

Opportunities to develop an integrated, stable sense of identity

Opportunities to develop positive relationships

Gender and role socialization

Opportunities to overcome circumstances that lead to troubled relationships


Opportunities to make a meaningful contribution

Opportunities to learn life skills, respect for others and civic skills

 


Capacity for self-care

Influence and social support of significant others

Supportive learning, living and working environments

Media





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