Making a Difference with Family-Friendly Factory Spaces
In China, it’s common for families to be separated for months at a time. Many parents work in factories in large cities while their children stay in villages with relatives to go to school. The Chinese social system connects access to schools and healthcare to the migrant worker’s home province, so most factory workers cannot bring their children with them when they move to cities to work.
“In fact, many workers may only be able to go back to see their families once or twice a year,” explained Steven Campbell, responsible sourcing manager, Asia-Pacific.
In 2017, two of Hallmark’s main suppliers in Dongguan, China — QP and Golden Glory — stepped up to address the societal issue of “left behind children” and joined the Family-Friendly Factory Spaces (FFFS) program sponsored by the Ethical Toy program, a nonprofit arm of the International Council of Toy Industries.
The FFFS initiative creates and operates summer camp programs for children of factory employees. While parents work, the children spend time learning and playing in a safe space inside the factory, away from manufacturing operations and supervised by teachers. During breaks and after work, parents can spend quality time with their children.
“It’s a really fantastic program,” Campbell said. “It provides a great opportunity for workers and their children to spend time together in a fun, playful, safe environment. Parents need to work to be financially stable for their families, and this program helps children to not feel left behind.”
The FFFS program is now in 14 factories, including the two Hallmark suppliers, with more than 500 children benefiting from the program in 2017. The program has created an invaluable impact for families: a safe and secure environment for their children.
“Before the FFFS was launched, we would pity the children who were brought over to the factory because their parents had to leave them inside the apartments when they went to work due to concerns over their safety,” explained a parent from the program on the website ethicaltoyprogram.org. “After joining the program, employees can now go to work carefree, knowing their children are safe and cared for. The teachers here teach them arts and literature every day. They also get to play and interact with other children.”
In addition, the FFFS program is having a positive effect on the participating factories. “Both our own monitoring and reports from the Ethical Toy Program are showing improvements in retention rates among workers who participated, as well as improved trust and relationships between employees and management,” Campbell confirmed.