The University Record, December 10, 1997

'Kids Kare at Home' allows
parents to work when kids are sick

From the Family Care Resources Program

Kids Kare at Home, a new program from Family Care Resources, will make it possible for parents to work if their child is ill and cannot attend a traditional day care program. Photo by Rebecca A. Doyle

Like many parents who work outside the home, Ellen Abramson loses work time when her children are sick. When their two young children are ill, Abramson, a development officer at the Business School, and her husband takes turn missing work to stay with them.

"I lose more time because of sick child care than anything else," she says. Like many working parents, her friends, neighbors and extended family also work or have other commitments and can't offer help.

"I have no back-up resources when my children are sick," Abramson says. She checked with agencies that could supply the care she needed, but found the cost so high that it was prohibitive.

Starting Jan. 1, a pilot program developed by the Family Care Resources Program in response to the recommendations of the Child Care Task Force will help parents in similar situations.

From Jan. 1 through June 30, faculty and staff who work out of the Medical Center or the Ann Arbor campus, who have a pressing need to be at work and who have a sick child under age 13, will be able to make use of Kids Kare at Home, funded in part by the University.

Leslie de Pietro, coordinator for the Family Care Resources Program, stresses that care in the employee's home will be available for children who are too ill to be cared for in regular day care facilities but not sick enough to require hospitalization. The University has contracted with Friends Who Care, a local home health care agency, to provide the service.

"Of course, parents would rather be at home to take care of a sick child who needs them. But when there is a critical presentation or meeting that must be attended, Kids Kare at Home offers parents an alternative," she says. Parents who need to work when their children are ill will be able to feel confident that the children are getting the care they need. Friends Who Care employs staff trained in child development and CPR and is bonded.

Families will be able to use up to 16 hours of the service during the initial six-month pilot program. There is a minimum four-hour charge per request. A cost of $4 per hour for Level I care provided by a home care provider will be billed to the parent requesting service. The University subsidizes the remaining $10-per-hour cost and travel expenses for the caregiver. Some discounts are available. Other levels of care at a higher cost are available for sicker children. Call Family Care Resources, 998-6133, for more information.

To enroll in the program, the parent must fill out a general information/emergency form, available through the Family Care Resources Program or from department administrators. Pre-registration on or before Jan. 1 is strongly encouraged in order to guarantee the request can be filled within two and one-half hours. Parents are urged to allow 30 minutes so that the child can become familiar with the caregiver and to go over instructions such as medications to be given or emergency contacts. Service is available within two and one-half hours in Washtenaw County; however, parents should allow extra time if the weather is inclement, especially if they live outside of the Washtenaw County area.

"I am floored by availability of this program and that the University is supporting it," Abramson says. "I think it's smart for the U-M to do this."

After the six-month pilot period, the program will be evaluated according to responses from those who had occasion to use the services.