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New program links faculty to care for kids, elderly

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Mo-Yin Tam

Mo-Yin Tam: “This is one of our efforts to try to improve climate for our employees."

Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin


UIC faculty members looking for caregivers for their young children or elderly parents now have a place to turn.

A new initiative — the Faculty Infant/Toddler/Child and Elder Care Resources and Referral Pilot Program — offers referral services for faculty members in search of caregivers. The pilot runs through April 4, 2011.

“This is one of our efforts to try to improve climate for our employees because climate is so important for them to stay, and be happy about their staying,” said Mo-Yin Tam, vice provost for faculty affairs.

The program was developed by the Tam’s office and WISEST in response to the 2004 Faculty Work Climate Survey of faculty in engineering and LAS.

Employees who took the survey expressed a need for infant and toddler care services at UIC, Tam said.

A committee organized by the provost’s office found it would cost about $4 million to build an infant care center on campus. The UIC Children’s Center offers day care for children who are just under 3 years old through age 6.

“A facility on campus, at this point, is out of the question unless we have a way of fundraising,” Tam said. “We tried to think about what would be the next best thing.”

The committee developed the pilot program after finding similar referral services at other higher education institutions, said Linda Siebert, director of WISEST.

“We had to address the issue in some way,” she said.

“We really saw it as a recruitment and retention issue, supporting the individual and life-friendly needs of the faculty.”

Benefits-eligible faculty members who are seeking referrals for elder care or child care can reach consultants at Nurtur Performance Worklife, the service provider contracted with the university online or by calling 1-800-568-7436.

Consultants won’t provide recommendations or endorse care providers, but they will research faculty members’ questions and provide referrals for caregiving resources in the area.

“It saves faculty a lot of legwork, and provides consultants who have expertise and know the Chicagoland area,” Siebert said.

Faculty members are responsible for choosing their own care providers and paying the costs of care.

“Consultants are not going to make the choices for you, but they are going to provide information, and in that way, it saves the faculty a lot of time,” Tam said.

“We really want people to start using it and letting us know whether it’s what they are looking for, and in what ways we can improve it.”

The service also provides referrals for summer camps and emergency care, as well as information on child development. It offers online webinars on topics related to caregiving for young children and elderly parents.

christyb@uic.edu


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