When Zhang Quan and his wife left Yunnan to work in a factory in Guangdong Province, their biggest worry wasn't whether they would settle in or make enough money; it was whether their four-year-old daughter would be okay back in Yunnan without them. This worry never once left them in the year that they've spent at the factory. Their story resonates with countless migrant parent workers in factories across China. Even those parents who do bring their children to the cities and industrial zones where they work can relate to the Zhangs' worries, especially during the summer when schools close and children are in need of supervision. Having on-site childcare facilities or summer camps arranged by factories are the exception rather than norm, leading to spikes in child labor and children in production areas. Stories of young kids locked in dorm rooms all day long are common around the summer too, as are reports of accidents involving unsupervised children.
A 2013 study by CCR CSR found that parent workers were more prone to making mistakes when they worried about their children and close to half had left their job at one stage or another because of their children. Although gradual Hukou reforms are enabling more families to migrate together, these findings still hold true today especially during school holidays when the need for childcare is the greatest.
The above challenges have a knock-on effect on the factory's operations: they see high turnover rates among parent workers, they deal with distracted or unmotivated workers whose productivity may suffer, and they face greater legal and compliance risks due to children in production areas.
What if there was one solution that addressed all the challenges above?
In the summer of 2016, CCR CSR rolled out a Factory Child Friendly Spaces (FCFS) pilot program that did just that. FCFS is a temporary, factory-based facility providing a safe environment for children to play and learn through a range of activities under the supervision of trained staff. The facilities are set up and start operating during the summer school vacation months when many parents are out of childcare options.
The space welcomes children who are usually left-behind but are reunited with their parents during the summer and those who live with their parents in the factory city on a permanent basis but are in need of a place to stay while their parents are working.
Five factories across China implemented an FCFS with the help and support of CCR CSR and two clients.
What did the project achieve?
In late 2016, CCR CSR conducted a study on the impact of the FCFS in four out of five of those factories, and found that FCFS brought positive impact in the following areas:
- Improvements were observed in worker-management relationships
- Improvement in workers’ satisfaction with the factory
- Children attending the centers became more active and thoughtful
- Workers trusted management more
- Workers planned to stay in the factory longer
For the full details on the impact achieved by the FCFS pilot project, read our study here.
CCR CSR is planning to scale up the project in more factories across China this year with clients, and we have our eyes set on other countries in Asia where the need for FCFS is also great, such as Vietnam and Malaysia.
If you are interested in setting up FCFS at one of your supplier factories, or you are an organization with services that could potentially support companies in engaging with FCFS or related activities please contact us!