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SLO chamber encourages family-friendliness in the workplace 

San Luis Obispo's Chamber of Commerce wants at least 100 local businesses to think of the children.

The chamber announced the launch of the Family-Friendly Workplace Accelerator Program on Oct. 4, which identifies the importance of creating a welcoming environment for employees taking care of children and family members. The chamber partnered with First5 SLO, an independent agency supporting children and families, on the program.

click to enlarge NEW LEADERSHIP The SLO Chamber of Commerce appointed Cal Poly lecturer Christina Lefevre Latner to spearhead the Family-Friendly Workplace Accelerator Program. - PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
  • Photo Courtesy Of Slo Chamber Of Commerce
  • NEW LEADERSHIP The SLO Chamber of Commerce appointed Cal Poly lecturer Christina Lefevre Latner to spearhead the Family-Friendly Workplace Accelerator Program.

Helping 100 businesses incorporate at least one family-friendly policy is one of their two goals.

"This of course is beyond what is already required by California state law. [The second goal], to work with the business community so that at least 50 more working parents of young children will have access to employer-supported child care in SLO County," said Christina Lefevre Latner, the chamber's workforce development manager.

SLO County stands to gain from this inclusion, too. Accommodating family-friendly policies in local workplaces can fatten gross regional product by $108 million each year, a Cuesta College-funded economic study discovered.

"It is important to know that family-friendly workplaces can take many different forms. These include flexible work arrangement options, which can range from occasional changes in schedule, for example, to take a child to the doctor, to alternate schedules, and compressed workweeks, or job-sharing and part-time work opportunities. Location flexibility, or telecommuting, which has become very common for many during the COVID-19 pandemic, is also a great option when feasible," Lefevre Latner said.

The Cuesta economic report was a child care study that spotlighted the high cost of living in SLO County, which created a need for families to work so much that child care providers were often prevented from looking after their own children. Lefevre Latner said though it may not be feasible to offer onsite child care services in every workplace, multiple low- and no-cost policies exist for businesses to be more sympathetic. She also said that businesses could take their pick of policy options from a Central Coast-tailored tool kit. The policies should support parents of young children, allowing them to remain in the workforce.

The accelerator program is currently funded for three years. Bruce Gibson, the 2nd District Supervisor and First 5 Commission chair, said he hopes that the program will boost diversity in the workforce.

"With the help of the Family-Friendly Workplace Accelerator Program, we can get more parents back to work with peace of mind and stimulate our local economy," he said in a chamber press release. Δ

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