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Work-family balance may be temporarily tipped in favor of the home front for many laborers this Labor Day weekend, but a Catholic University of America professor thinks it no longer takes a holiday to accomplish this.

A good economy has done more to reform the workplace than all the advocacy of the past couple of decades, says Marie Raber, associate professor of social work.

Her assessment relies a little heavily on anecdotal evidence and surveys of major corporations that tout high-profile, family-friendly policies. Still, Ms. Raber sees employers as more readily acknowledging that workers have another life and says companies are becoming more accepting of flexible work schedules, job sharing and family leaves.

Family-friendly policies help to recruit employees and boost the company's image, she adds.

But the workplace isn't quite as friendly for low-wage workers, especially those newly off welfare.

A study conducted by Dr. S. Jody Heymann of Harvard Medical School shows that children from low-income families are more likely to live in households in which their working parents lack paid leave and cannot afford to take unpaid leave.

In the process of studying the impact of welfare reform on parents' abilities to care for their children's health, Dr. Heymann found that 42 percent of urban working parents at many income levels are unable to take time off to care for sick children.

Parents entitled to paid sick leave and/or vacation time were five times more likely to spend time with their sick children. But many of those leaving the welfare rolls are taking jobs that don't provide such benefits.

Studies have shown that sick children get well faster when parents are involved in their care. Stressing the importance of parental involvement in a child's recovery from illness, Dr. Heymann says public policy should support family leaves that will cover all working Americans.

Robert Richie, executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy in Washington, D.C., will speak on "Empowering the Voter in the 21st Century" on Sept. 21 in the Adam's Mark Hotel.

The program takes place at the fall kickoff luncheon of the League of Women Voters of Greater Buffalo Area and is being co-sponsored by several organizations, including the Amherst and Buffalo branches of the American Association of University Women and the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women.

Luncheon reservations are being taken by the LVW, 6 Belvoir Road, until Sept. 14. The center, headed by Richie since 1992, supports proportional voting systems.

The Association of Professional Women Writers will sponsor "24 Hours of Creativity" for women writers, published and unpublished, Friday and next Saturday in the Dunkirk Conference Center. Writers who will speak include Sandy Carrubba, Judy Kay, Helen Domske and poet Susan Lord. Take a few of your masterpieces to share during Friday's campfire or a work in progress for the discussion groups. Call Lois Vidaver, 834-4667, for information.

State Sen. Mary Lou Rath (R-Williamsville) reports creation of a Response to Violence Web site as part of the Regional Information Network. The site, created under the guidance of Suzanne Tomkins, coordinator of the Family Violence Clinic at University at Buffalo Law School, has information on community services for victims and individuals, agencies and businesses concerned with the issue. The site focuses on Erie County but there are plans to include all of Western New York. Visit

There are 2.8 million unplanned pregnancies in the United States every year, and about 1 million of them are blamed on the misuse, failure or discontinuation of the birth control pill. A birth control pill manufacturer hopes to reduce that number with a new gadget that will help women who just plain forget to take the daily ounce of prevention.

Organon Inc. is distributing a beeper free to Mircette takers. The "reminder card," the size of a credit card, has a microchip timer. A button pressed once on the first day of a woman's first pill pack will program the card to beep at the same time every day for the next three months.

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