First Union Corp. has started helping its employees find child care services tailored to their needs.

The program provides all First Union employees with access to counselors via a toll-free telephone service.

Information Within 48 Hours

Counselors provide information on day care planning options and, within 48 hours, can provide locations, types, and costs of nearby facilities.

According to Joan Hope, director of work-family programs at First Union, "floods of information requests" have already poured in.

The results can't be measured, but according to Ms. Hope, one employee did say she had become "more organized and more productive now because of the benefit, and is more willing to do a good job."

Consolidation in the banking industry is a compelling reason for corporations to look into such programs, said Barry Wanger, a spokesman for Work/Family Directions Inc., the consulting firm that handles First Union's child care referral program.

This is especially true now, said Mr. Wanger, because employees must be assisted in better managing their responsibilities at home so that they will be able to handle increased responsibility at work.

Needed in Banking, Expert Says

The banking industry, with its high percentage of women employees, may be most in need of work-family programs, Mr. Wanger said. Studies by Work/Family Directions have concluded that the burden of parenting lies disproportionately on women.

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