With many parents and children working and learning from home, child care continues to be a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the university’s employee population, there are about 14,500 dependents younger than 18, according to the Benefits Office.

Jennie McAlpine, senior director for work-life programs, has heard from many working parents over the past nine months.

“We know that trying to work, educate and care for our families all at the same time is extremely challenging,” McAlpine said. “The university is actively working on ways to help with this difficult challenge, and we hear you on how much this help is needed.”

A new survey of staff on the Ann Arbor campus will provide additional information about child care needs. Richard Holcomb, associate vice president for human resources, emailed an invitation to participate this week.

New resources coming soon

The university plans to introduce two new resources in early 2021 to help faculty and staff.

The first is a university-paid membership to care.com for U-M faculty and staff. The membership grants unlimited access to a network of caregivers to find ongoing care for children, adults, seniors, pets and more.

Employees would still be responsible for the cost of care utilized.

The other is a new family-to-family posting board for various family care needs from University Human Resources.

Faculty and staff will be able to create and respond to posts about sharing resources and providing in-kind support such as child care, tutoring and elder care with other employees.

Resources available now

Occasional help through Family Helpers

Family Helpers is a database of U-M students, recent graduates and retirees who offer short-term or occasional services in the family homes of current faculty, staff and students. Services include babysitting or child care, tutoring or learning support (virtually or in-person), pet care and even running errands.

Employees can post a help-wanted ad or browse the list of available helpers.

Arrangements, such as scheduling and rates, are made between the two parties, not the university. 

Backup care also available

When regular child care falls through, the Kids Kare at Home service may be able to provide temporary backup care. Care through this program is provided by Kennedy Care/Safe at Home. 

The hourly cost is subsidized for some university faculty, staff and students using a sliding scale based on family income.

Campus Homes Network

The Work-Life Resource Center website provides a portal for looking at the Campus Homes Network members as well as all licensed child care in the state of Michigan.

Additional programs and resources to help families

In addition to programs coordinated by U-M’s Work-Life Resource Center, there are others throughout the community that provide child care, tutoring, learning pods and other services to meet needs faced by families. Faculty and staff can find a listing of programs on the Work-Life Resource Center website.

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