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Quality childcare and fair work environment for working parents Updated: 2017-09-12 20:08:07 KST

There are plenty of books and toys, and friends to play with at this childcare.
But it looks like kids are having most fun when doing a group activity led by their instructors.

"I like having fun with the teachers here, I made a hamburger today with some friends. "

For today's lesson: 'Why one shouldn't say curse words',the first and second graders have an open discussion with each other, and later on, they get to have a short snack time before dinner.

(SOV )

Their parents may still be at work by this time of the day, but they have got nothing to worry about as this place isn't just a regular "day"-care.

The hours between 3 and 7 p.m. are especially challenging for parents, as they struggle to fill the gap between the end of the school day, and the end of their work day. To take the burden off community residents, this childcare center opened last year. Kids usually come here straight from school to play, under close supervision.

Cho is never alone when handling kids, she's always got an assistant by her side.
And it's often the parents that take turns to fill the position.

Local residents and the Gwacheon city community made this program possible. Among city resident applicants, we prioritize couples working full-time and single parents. The city plans to expand the program to all parts of Gwacheon in the coming years.

It's part of the city government's efforts to help parents with kids balance work and family life better.
And it's something that's needed throughout Korea.
Out of some 5 million women who quit their jobs last year, over 50-percent answered that they left their careers behind to give birth or devote their time to raising their kids.

"Women my age often quit their jobs because they get frustrated with the nursery system. I hear when the parents come to pick up their child after 6 p.m., the kid is often left alone."

"The root cause lies in women having to shoulder the burden of raising children. This wide-spread notion of traditional gender roles needs to change so moms and dads can both be responsible for taking care of kids. Along with that, safe and reliable nurseries close to homes or the workplace are needed."

While experts warn that bringing change to long-held cultural beliefs will take time, the 'ideal' care center model is gaining momentum.
Many of the nearly 4-thousand staff at Ansan Science Valley, an area filled with hundreds of tech businesses and institutions, juggle extended working hours and family life on a day-to-day basis.
And to accommodate them, the community featured a 'day-care 4.0'.

"I like how the center's right next to my work, so if my kid gets sick, I can quickly come here to check on him. Knowing that my child is nearby, I get to sit back and focus at work."

An open playing field for kids to learn new things and make new friends.
The management is handled by the valley's conglomerates, with government support.
So there's no extra financial load for the parents.

"From female workers who quit their jobs to take care of their children, throughout the country, companies saw over 13 billion US dollars lost a year. So we wanted to come up with a system where women can be a mom without putting an end to their career, and can really focus on their work."

All the more reason for more reliable childcare services, where kids can spend hours of quality time while moms chase after their dreams.
But that alone won't secure these valued workers.

"A profound structure that prevents any discrimination against working moms is also needed. The discrimination is often driven from conventional ideas that women are responsible for household affairs, and are a secondary income producer at home."

Lee Unshin Arirang News.
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