Cities and regions in which families are comfortable are well-geared for the future, as families also contribute considerably towards the economic sustainability of a community. This assertion is clearly and precisely formulated in the new family atlas that the company “Prognos” has undertaken for the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
Jena has the task of moulding the location as a family-friendly location, this theme already having been identified and promoted for years in a city-typical manner – as a network.
“Together we want to commit ourselves to Jena being perceived as a child and family-friendly city, as well as a city promoting the cooperation of generations.” To this end, all the currently 40 partners of the “Jenaer Bündnis für Familie” (Jena for family alliance), to which the city belongs, have set out to promote family-friendliness in the city on the Saale river). “Whether families feel comfortable in Jena depends on the professional and social conditions they come across. A family-friendly environment strengthens quality of life and personal cooperation. The sustainability and development possibilities of the resident businesses are being fundamentally improved and the attractiveness of the city of Jena is being strengthened.”
The “Jenaer Bündnis für Familie” has existed for more than a year now and through the cooperation of different players (in the business, scientific, political and administrative spheres, social associations and families) wants to sustainably improve the general conditions for families in Jena and so also the family-friendliness in the city. Through a strong network of all the local corporate strengths, the available activities, initiatives and offers for families should be bundled and synergies generated.
Not least, through the commitment of the “Jenaer Bündnis für Familie”, the topic of family and career reconcilability has also in Jena developed from a niche topic to an important range of topics. Here the family and single parent centre plays an important role. Since 2002 it has offered flexible child-care possibilities for families. This development is also apparent in the Jena organizations. The company MAZeT (electronic design and manufacture services), which has been the forerunner for years, was distinguished as a family-friendly enterprise in 2000 by the incumbent Federal President. Last year further good examples were added, like the opening of the company day-care centre of the Jenoptik AG (an optical technology company) in the Göschwitz industrial area. Companies like the Carl Zeiss GmbH, Göpel Elektronik and the Stadtwerke Jena-Pößneck (a public utility company) will support their employees through allowances to pay to child day-care costs. Also numerous smaller organizations support their employees in the balancing of career and family. Examples hereof are, amongst others, the Apotheke am Nollendorfer Hof (a pharmacy) and the mso jena mikroschichtopik GmbH (a laser, optics and photonics company).
A further field of activity is presented by the topic of education, basic and further training. The city of Jena possesses a wide range of educational concepts for schools and day care centres right up to internationality and multilingualism. The largest university of applied sciences in Thuringia and the almost 450-year-old university have about 26,000 students.
Culture and science assume an identity-creating function for citizens and families in the city. In this way, typical and recurring highlights take place throughout the year, promoting the identification of citizens and families with “their” city. Examples are: “Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften” (long night of sciences), “Zug der Jenaer Geister“ (the procession of the Jena spirits), the arena of culture, the reading marathon, the jazz mile and also the club and family festival. In addition to its projects, the city’s implicitness in involving all its citizens and its perception of business and science as partners, have moved the German Donor Association to award the city of Jena with the title “Science City 2008” – a title that is both an entitlement and an incentive.
Family-friendliness in and around Jena offers existing organizations economic development possibilities, creates positive general conditions for start-ups, increases location attractiveness and competitiveness of the region and positively influences the local population policy.
The following forms part of the focal points of a family-friendly city development:
• the need-driven enhancement and safeguarding of current educational, cultural, sport and recreation facilities, which are available to all population levels (school development planning, day-care requirement planning, child and youth advancement planning and accordingly senior citizen care planning in reaction to demographic development),
• the creation of diverse recreation offerings with a high habitation character, for example the layout of the natural expanses along the Saale river, which will also lead to an improved experience of the river in the city, in particular the appreciation of the city centre public park “Oberaue” on the basis of the current agreed overall plan with the protection of historic monument aspects,
• measures for neighbourhood improvement in the areas of the “social cities” Lobeda and Winzerla, which have priority (besides the two district agencies, it is necessary to create further points of call for families),
• measures for the creation of family-friendly housing offers.
Family-friendliness is one of the most important aspects of sustainability of communities. Child- and family-friendliness is one of the critical factors for couples that have decided on having children, to stay in the city or move out. This we have identified in Jena and we are acting accordingly.
The author was born in 1965 and studied physical education. From 1992 until 2003, she was the head of the family centre in Jena. She has been the managing director of the “Familie und Alleinerziehende eV” (a family and single parent association) since 2003 and since 2006, she has also been the coordinator of the “Bündnis für Familie” (alliance for family) in Jena.