Family Helpers program connects students, faculty

The new Family Helpers program connects U-M students interested in occasional employment with staff and faculty who are in need of services, such as pet sitting, house cleaning and gardening.

The program was inspired by many people over the years asking if the Work Life Resource Center (WLRC) could connect parents, in particular, with students who could babysit, says Jennie McAlpine, director of Work/Life Programs.

"I've had about a dozen e-mails from faculty and staff saying 'Thanks so much, this is awesome!'" she says. "I'm looking forward to getting some gardening help myself. This was a fun program to put together and so practical."

WLRC piloted the Family Helpers program this fall with University Human Resources employees and the School of Nursing students. Now the program has recruited students from several schools/colleges to help provide services that also include errands, tutoring, house sitting and occasional care for elderly and/or disabled relatives.

Student profiles include information on their past experience, special certifications (such as CPR/First Aid) and training relevant to the jobs they seek. WLRC has confirmed that all students currently are enrolled at U-M and have cleared a State of Michigan criminal background check.

To access the Family Helpers listing, go to https://www.hr.umich.edu/familyhelpers/. The link can also be found on the home page of the WLRC Web site, www.hr.umich.edu/worklife. There are approximately 40 students who have listed their information on the Family Helpers Web site, from the School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Art & Design and the Department of Psychology. These listings will be updated twice each year.

Students interested in signing up with the service can submit a profile by choosing that option when accessing the Family Helpers Web site. New profiles will be uploaded each month, as soon as background checks clear.

All negotiations related to occasional employment, including setting an hourly rate and requesting references, are handled directly between the staff or faculty member and the student, McAlpine says.

WLRC will keep tabs on usage and send out satisfaction surveys to employers and students in about three months, McAlpine says.