Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

November 30, 1998

Family & career: Can the two co-exist?

For many people, 24 hours are too few each day to accommodate the increasing demands of family and career. That's why the launch of the University of Guelph's new Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being couldn't be more timely.

Its mission is promoting responsive work environments and to help families across Canada manage work and family responsibilities in healthy ways.
Family relations professor Donna Lero believes the Centre is urgently needed because "it reflects current needs within society and the rapidly changing nature of both work and the family. Increasingly, we see work and relationships connected as a necessary foundation for economic growth and strong families". She and colleague Kerry Daly serve as co-directors of the Centre, which celebrates its official launch this week.

Lero points to an accelerated pace of life, non-traditional family relationships, dual earners working longer hours, globalization and downsizing as a few of the reasons the work/family elastic may be stretched extra taut these days. "The challenge for families is integrating work and family life rather than juggling the two. Integration is key, so that people can be successful in these multiple roles, rather than struggling and juggling from crisis to crisis."

The Centre is unique in Canada and one of a handful in North America. "Our mission is broader than other research centres," notes Lero, "because hardly any have our family focus -- or they don't have the health and caregiving in addition to the business concerns."

A mantra of the Centre is that the results of its research must be applied and available to the public, to have an impact on the daily lives of Canadians and have longer-term effects at the workplace and in communities.

The Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being will have 50 affiliate researchers from departments within the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. The aim will be to draw on research strengths of teams of researchers to provide holistic solutions to the problems facing Canadians every day and to see those solutions communicated and applied.

A team of researchers from the Centre are preparing their first proposal, which will be submitted to a major foundation. The focus of the proposal is a study of corporations that promote a family-friendly context, with a view to developing strategies and benchmarks for companies which want to be effective in this area. The proposal reflects the Centre's entrepreneurial spirit; future plans include attracting new sources of revenue through major grants and contract research with community groups, government organizations and the private sector, in the latter helping companies match business imperatives with the changing corporate culture.

Lero and Daly are experienced with the media and recognized experts in several of the Centre's mandated research areas. Lero's expertise is in child-care research and policy, work/family issues and parenting and work, and she was a founding board member of the Centre for Families at Purdue University in Indiana. She recently began studying the challenges faced by parents with children with disabilities. Daly studies work and family responsibilities in families, how families use time and the changing patterns of fatherhood.
Prof. Donna Lero may be reached at 519-824-4120, Ext. 3914, Prof. Kerry Daly at Ext. 3345. For more information on the Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being, contact Communications and Public Affairs at the University of Guelph, 519-824-4120, Ext. 6982. Media in Toronto note: The Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being will be co-sponsors of a conference Dec. 2 at the Toronto Board of Trade titled "Creating a Family-Friendly Workplace."

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