For parent workers in the factories, one of the biggest challenges they face is finding time to be with their children.
Ms. Huang (pseudonym), a 32 year old toy factory worker from Zhanjiang can relate to the above. She has a six year old daughter who lives with her grandmother back in her hometown -- a ten hour train ride from the factory. Long work hours, coupled with the fact that her husband also works full time, has meant that neither parent has time to care for their daughter. Although the situation is not uncommon, Ms. Huang feels the repercussions of her departure every time she speaks to her child:
"I'm not so close to my daughter because I never raised her. She doesn't talk much during phone calls and doesn't tell me about any problems she has," she confides.
Ms. Huang goes back to see her daughter 2-3 times a year and call her about ten times a month. Despite her efforts to maintain a close relationship with her daughter, she's all too aware of the emotional distance between them. Conversations are usually confined to small talk and Ms. Huang can't seem to get her to open up over the phone. Her mother-in-law often throws even more salt into an already aching wound by accusing her of being a bad parent.
But all that changed this summer when Ms. Huang received a letter telling her about a Factory Child Friendly Space that would open in the toy factory where she works during the school break. The concept was unfamiliar to her and her biggest concern was safety. But when she learned her daughter could stay in the factory during the entire summer vacation and be looked after by trained teachers in a safe space, she quickly signed up.
The FCFS that Ms. Huang's daughter attends.
The Factory Child Friendly Space (FCFS) is a program developed by CCR CSR that involves creating safe spaces within factories where the children of employees are looked after while their parents work. This year, CCR CSR has already implemented half a dozen such spaces in factories across the China.
The FCFS at Ms. Huang's toy factory is the result of a partnership between CCR CSR and ICTI-CARE Foundation - the ethical supply chain program for the global toy industry - which has launched a wider initiative to support toy workers with "left-behind" children in China.
In addition to giving workers greater piece of mind, these spaces provide an opportunity for families to spend more time together, especially those workers who normally live apart from their children.
The spaces are free of charge and open to the children of all workers. The overall aim of the Factory Child Friendly Space is to give children a safe place to play, learn and have fun, while at the same time allowing them to be closer to their parents and to go home with them together every night.
Since coming to the Factory Child Friendly Space, Ms. Huang has noticed a remarkable transformation in her daughter. No longer closed off and reserved, her child now happily talks to her and shares details of her every day life.
"I feel closer to my child now. I'm so relieved that she can be here."
Relishing the closer bond between her and her daughter, is further put to ease by the competence of the FCFS staff. Each staff member has been trained by CCR CSR and Ms. Huang believes they genuinely care about the children.
Kids at FCFS can take part in a wide range of activities, such as story-telling and arts & crafts.
"My daughter plays with other children, learns new things and has improved her social and communication skills," Ms. Huang proudly tells us.
As for what can be done to improve the Factory Child Friendly Spaces, Ms. Huang says she wishes it could stay open longer. "I'd even be willing to pay for it if it means being able to spend more time with my child."