The University Record, January 14, 2002

Center helps balance life and work

By Lesley Harding

After the holiday break, it’s back to reality for many of U-M’s staff, faculty and students. And with the New Year comes the need to juggle new schedules, putting many people in a bind over childcare and other issues of daily life. The University’s Work/Life Resource Center can help University members manage their sometimes conflicting demands between work and personal life.

“The Work/Life Resource Center can help staff, faculty and graduate students balance their personal and professional lives in many ways,” says Leslie de Pietro, coordinator of the center. “It’s not just for employees with childcare or eldercare needs. It’s also for single people who may want flexible scheduling so they can do something like exercise more.”

When the program was first established in 1990, its primary focus was on helping employees find childcare. Since then, it has increased its scope of services. To reflect that growth, the center changed its name this month from the Family Care Resources Program to the Work/Life Resource Center.

Many faculty and staff members are using it to make care arrangements or locate services for an elderly parent, or to help with resources for adult children with disabilities, regardless of where they live in the United States. The staff also can help with inquiries about telecommuting or other flexible scheduling options.

Even with the expansion of services, a large part of what the center continues to do is help staff, faculty, and students find appropriate childcare. The Work/Life Resource Center consults with parents and does a customized search to help find care that meets the family’s needs. The center also runs the Kids Kare at Home program for sick and emergency back-up care, with trained caregivers who come to the child’s home.

“Parents absolutely love the Kids Kare program,” says de Pietro. “Most parents want to stay home with a moderately sick child, but after the sixth day of the chicken pox, they’re happy to have someone take over the child care duties while they teach their classes or make an important meeting.”

The Work/Life Resource Center also has a resource library where people can browse for information on parenting, work/life business issues and other family related matters. Throughout the year, the center offers individual parenting consultations and hosts free, public workshops featuring local experts and nationally known speakers.

“It’s been shown in the latest business research that employers who treat their employees well by having programs like ours in place, are the most profitable companies,” says de Pietro. “Businesses understand that a happy employee leads to a happy customer. Specifically in a university context, it’s a great recruitment and retention tool, as well.”

Faculty and staff interested in finding out more about the center’s resources can call (734) 936-8677 or visit the Web at www.umich.edu/~hraa/worklife.