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 initiatives 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.

Visit the Family Forward NC website to learn more.


  • We worked with an Advisory Council 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 the Guide to Family Forward Workplaces.
  • More than 5,000 people have accessed the Guide online, and it has been downloaded more than 400 times.
  • We have presented the Guide to over 4,700 employers across the state at events such as the North Carolina Economic Development Association annual conference, the 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 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 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.

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.

Spearhead Collaboration

We created an Advisory Council of business leaders from across the state to inform the Guide to Family Forward Workplaces. 

We engage industry sector and trade associations through presentations and member surveys to learn more about their family friendly workplace offerings and challenges to providing benefits. Survey results will be analyzed for associations to advance industry-wide collaboration.

We’ve worked with groups such as Capital Associated Industries, local Smart Starts across the state, the NC Restaurants and Lodging Association and the NC Economic Development Association. 

Advance Policy

We published a Guide to Family Forward Workplaces that focuses on the research and what we learned from businesses and employees, outlining a range of options that are responsive to best practice 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.

Advancing Work

November 2019

Twenty-seven case studies published showcasing NC employers that offer family friendly workplace benefits. 

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. 

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.


  • Blue Shield and Blue Cross of North Carolina
  • NC Institute of Medicine

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