After years of complaints from employees, 137 companies and other groups have decided to get serious about the dearth of child and elder care in the U.S. The companies, including IBM, American Express, AT&T, Motorola, and Xerox, will commit a total of $25 million to develop programs in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

The coalition has spent a year drawing up guidelines that dependent-care programs must meet to gain funding. The goal: to boost the supply and quality of programs available in each community. A study last year by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 40% of working mothers age 23 to 39 must rely on relatives to care for their children.

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