Douglas ESD earns grant to strengthen families, businesses

Logo: Business champions for kids

The Family Ford Foundation has awarded a $225,000 grant to the Douglas Education Service District to work with local businesses on identifying family-friendly practices and taking steps to make them happen. The collaboration is expected to not only boost productivity and enhance employer profiles, but also to improve school readiness for Douglas County children.       

The project is being coordinated by Douglas ESD and Business Champions for Kids, which seeks to recognize employers of all sizes and industries that support working families. The grant is part of a three-year pilot program that’s being considered for additional funding by other sources.     

Analicia Nicholson, director of Education Services for Douglas ESD, said project leaders are enthusiastic about the opportunity to provide services and technical support for Douglas County employers seeking to support work/family balance.

 “While many businesses currently have an understanding of the family-friendly practices they employ in the workplace, some of those businesses lack the human resources to launch new programs,” Nicholson said. “Others may have the capacity, but lack the knowledge. The goal of this project is to bridge the gap.”

The project also recognizes the role that work/family balance plays in early learning. Research indicates that employees who face fewer obstacles to balancing the demands of home and workplace are better able to maintain stable and nurturing families. As a result, parents can spend more time on pursuits such as school readiness activities with their young children. Back on the job, these employees are then more likely to engage in positive work habits, which increases productivity.   

Next steps include expanding a list of Douglas County employers who are interested in designing a customized plan for their workplaces.  Employers who are committed to raising awareness about the value of early childhood investment have the opportunity to be recognized by Douglas County Business Champions for Kids for workplace achievements.  This can further enhance organizations’ performances and reputations, allowing them to attract and retain outstanding employees.