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Family Matters No. 32 - August 1992

Work and family values, preferences and practice

Intergenerational initiatives
Ilene Wolcott

Abstract

Brief reference is made to two intergenerational programs in the United States, Stride Rite which offers adult day care facilities as well as child care, and the LatchMatch program run by the University of Michigan and its Turner Geriatric Centre, which links the elderly with 'latch-key' children.

Organising for the care of family members during their hours at work is the major concern of workers with family responsibilities. For some families child care is the primary concern, for others care of elderly relatives. Many families may be providing care for both generations.

Several corporations in the United States have responded to these dual demands on families in an inovative way. Stride Rite, for example, has expanded their on-site child care facililties to include adult day care. This intergenerational centre has a capacity for 55 children (aged 15 months through kindergarten), and for 24 older people (over the age of 60). Half of the spaces are reserved for people living in the community who do not work for the company. The state government subsidises low-income families who use the centre.

The company emphasises that the elderly people who come to the centre are not surrogate grandparents, but people who require care for themselves. Nevertheless the children and elderly residents participate in many shared activities and enjoy each others company (Peters, Peters and Caropreso 1990).

In Michigan, homebound 'senior citizens' are matched with 'latchkey' children who are on their own after school while their parents are working. The 'LatchMatch' program is run by the University of Michigan and its Turner Geriatric Centre. Children are matched with the elderly who call them every day after school to talk or offer help with homework and other concerns. Children then do not interrupt their parents at work (The National Report on Work and Family 1992).

References

  • Peters, J., Peters, B. and Caropreso, F. (1990), Work and Family Policies: The New Strategic Plan, The Conference Board, New York.
  • The National Report On Work and Family (1992), Vol.5, No.12.