Roy Summerford


AUBURN -- The Employers' Child Care Alliance in Lee County has been cited by Labor Secretary Alexis Herman as a national model for employers to address child care problems in their communities.

The labor secretary and ECCA President Lynne Hammond of Auburn University were among eight participants Tuesday in a roundtable discussion in Montgomery on child care issues. Hammond is assistant to the AU president and secretary to the AU Board of Trustees.

The ECCA, headquartered at the Child Care Resource Center in Opelika, is a cooperative effort of 17 local employers, including AU, Southern Union and the cities of Auburn and Opelika.

Herman said the U.S. Department of Labor is recognizing innovative solutions to child care problems for working Americans. The labor secretary said organizations that have found innovative and successful solutions to child care problems will serve as mentors for communities across the nation.

Under the direction of Gail Piggott at the Child Care Resource Center, the ECCA program helps match employees of its members with quality child care providers. The alliance also works with the employees, their employers and child care providers to improve the quality of child care in the community.

Since its origin five years ago, the ECCA has enhanced its resource and referral services and developed other services such as a quality enhancement partnership to help child care centers move toward accreditation and the "Bridges" program of after-school and summer services for 10- to 14-year-old child of its members' employees.

Hammond said the alliance began as a collective effort by the university and other local employers to help employees find quality child care, but the efforts have had a broader impact than the members at first imagined. "The fact that we are being looked at as a model indicates that the alliance is having a positive impact on the entire community," she said.

Other alliance members include Auburn Bank, AU Hotel and Conference Center, Briggs & Stratton, Craftmaster Printers, East Alabama Medical Center, East Alabama Mental Health/MR, Employment Resources Corp., Quantegy Corp., Uniroyal Goodrich and Vermont American.

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CONTACT: Hammond, 334/844-4650; Piggott at 334/749- 8400.