Business Smart. Family Friendly. Future Ready.

Family Forward NC is an innovative initiative to improve children’s health and well-being and keep North Carolina’s businesses competitive. It is a business-led change to increase access to research-based, family-friendly practices — big and small — that improve workplace productivity, recruitment and retention; grow a strong economy; and support children’s healthy development.

Though the number of working families has risen dramatically over the last few decades, family workplace policies have not kept pace. The immediate and long-term business advantages and positive outcomes to child and family health and well-being are well-documented.

Through our Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, research and the exchange of ideas among business leaders, employees and organizations, Family Forward NC promotes workforce investments such as paid parental leave, support for breastfeeding mothers, employer-sponsored childcare options and accommodations for pregnant workers, which support children’s healthy development and a competitive business environment.

Is Your Workplace Family Forward? Get Certified

For employers with five or more employees who are already family friendly, our new Family Forward NC Certification designates employers that offer policies and practices that support the health and well-being of working families and children. By becoming a Family Forward NC Certified Employer, you show potential employees, customers and stakeholders that you care about working families and children and that you are a workplace where pregnant workers, parents and caregivers will feel supported and can thrive.

Learn more about our certification process and fees and apply today.

Download our certification fact sheet and share it!

Learn more about Family Forward NC and access the Guide to Family Forward Workplaces. 


  • We worked with two Advisory Councils of prominent business leaders, community leaders and health experts and gathered input from more than 1,000 employers and employees throughout the state to help inform our work.
  • More than 49,000 people have accessed the Guide online.
  • We have presented the Guide to over 7,400 employers across the state at more than 75 events such as the North Carolina Economic Development Association annual conference, the North Carolina Society for Human Resource Management annual conference, the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and Action Greensboro.
  • More than 140 business and community leaders attended our Family Forward NC Summit in April 2019, and 70 percent said they were inspired to take action as a result.
  • Family Forward NC has been featured in a number of media outlets, including EdNC, the Greenville Daily Reflector, the Wilmington Star News, WUNC’s the State of Things, the Triangle Business Journal, the Charlotte Business Journal, the News and Observer, Public News Service, the Mountain Xpress, Business North Carolina and the Salisbury Post.
  • Our Family Forward NC social media efforts have an average reach of 10,000 impressions per month.

Promote Understanding

We have engaged NC employers of all sizes. We work with the NC Chamber and local Chambers of Commerce, Workforce Development Boards and economic development organizations to generate awareness, hear from employers about opportunities and challenges, and identify businesses already offering these benefits.

Spearhead Collaboration

We created two Advisory Councils of business leaders from across the state to inform the Guide to Family Forward Workplaces and the Family Forward NC Employer Certification

We engage industry sectors and trade associations through presentations and member surveys to learn more about their familyfriendly workplace offerings and challenges to providing benefits.

We’ve partnered with groups such as the NC HR organization Catapult, local Smart Starts across the state, the NC Restaurants and Lodging Association, and the NC Economic Development Association to engage their members and stakeholders about the value of family-friendly workplaces.

Advance Policy

We published a Guide to Family Forward Workplaces that focuses on research-based policies and what we learned from businesses and employees, outlining a range of options that are responsive to best practices and NC business and employee needs. The Guide also provides information for employers on how to engage employees on the topic, including an employee survey and business self-assessment to get started.

We support the implementation of the NC Department of Commerce’s First in Talent Economic Development Strategic Plan by providing training, workshops and resources to its workforce and economic development partners and other organizations that assist both start-up and expanding NC businesses.

Advancing Work

October 2022

Family Forward NC Employer Certification is launched which designates employers that offer policies and practices that support the health and well-being of working families and children.

March 2022

The updated Guide to Family Forward Workplaces is published and includes new policies on family-sustaining wages, employee assistance programs and new child care supports. 

February 2022

Since 2019, 33 case studies have been published featuring manufacturers, nonprofits, county and municipal governments, restaurants and other NC employers that are business smart, family-friendly, and future ready.

The 2020-2021 Biennial Report showcases two years of exponential growth as COVID-19 heightens the need for family-friendly workplaces across North Carolina. 

September 2021

The Family Forward NC Advisory Council of prominent North Carolina business and community representatives and health experts are convened to review and support the Family Forward NC Employer Certification program.

July 2021

The North Carolina Department of Commerce releases its First in Talent Economic Development Strategic Plan, calling for investment in children and working families as a way to build a more prosperous and resilient economy. The plan recognizes Family Forward NC as a resource for employers to attract and retain workers and support working parents.

July 2021

How to Build A Family-Friendly Community is published as a playbook for out-of-state licensing of Family Forward NC resources. Licensed materials are customizable and adaptable. We have sold licenses and consulted with organizations in Minnesota, Montana, Florida, and Pennsylvania. 


August 2020

Recognizing the challenges employers faced during COVID-19, Family Forward NC launches a Rapid Response Program and begins offering no-cost access to HR experts. The program assists employers, especially employers in the hospitality and manufacturing industries and small businesses, in identifying family-friendly workplace benefits to build business resilience during and after the COVID crisis. 

January 2020

The 2018-2019 Biennial Report highlights groundbreaking research and outreach, fostering employer-led change in family-friendly practices.

April 2019

One hundred forty employers from across NC gather at RTI International for a Family Forward NC Summit to move toward enacting family friendly workplace policies. 

January 2019

A Guide to Family Forward Workplaces is published, providing tools for employers of all sizes with practical tips for selecting and implementing 16 family-friendly workplace practices that have evidence to support positive business and child health outcomes. 

December 2018

NCECF published the Research Basis for Family-Friendly Policies and Practices to highlight evidence of workplace policies that have a positive impact on business competitiveness, employees and their children’s well-being. 

August 2018

Ten business and community leaders join Family Forward NC’s Statewide Advisory Council to inform the contents of the Guide to Family Forward Workplaces.

March 2018

NCECF delivers the keynote about Family Forward NC for UNC-TV’s Early Childhood Summit in Hickory, NC to 200 community leaders.

February 2018

Family Forward NC is launched at the Institute for Emerging Issues 2018 Forum – kidoNomiCs.

Fall 2017

300 NC employers are interviewed about their family friendly workplace policies to inform the Family Forward NC initiative. 300 NC employees are surveyed to understand their needs and desires concerning family friendly workplace policies and practices.

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