by Dawn Finch, Interim Public Relations Manager, University Health Services
"A Guide for Balancing Work and Family," just off the press, extends a helping hand to staff and faculty grappling with one of the most pressing issues of our day: How do you hold a job, do it well and raise a family-and do that well-at the same time?
For some, the child-rearing issue is replaced by caring for an aging family member or an adult with a disability. Increasingly, there are those trying to juggle all three-child care, elder care and a job. These are the so-called sandwich generation.
The new 55-page guide, launched by the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Dependent Care and endorsed by Chancellor Berdahl, presents university policies, benefits, programs, resources and information for those of us caught in the balancing act.
"Required reading," advisory committee co-chair Alison Gopnik calls the guide. "Unless people know about the policies and programs designed to ease some of the pressures that go along with working and having a family, they can't take advantage of them. The guide is a sort of one-stop shopping place for this information. Instead of gleaning information from personnel manuals or relying on the grapevine, this book offers all the information in one place."
Gopnik, a professor of developmental psychology, calls the ever-increasing number of benefits and policies that support family responsibilities central to the campus's recruitment and retention efforts.
"With so many women now in the workforce, the traditional caretaker of family needs is now otherwise occupied a good part of the day. But the personal responsibilities do not go away. Instead, they're even more complicated. If employers are to create a functional workforce, they are realizing the importance of making work compatible with family."
As a mother of three who raised her children while moving along the tenure track, Gopnik says she is well aware of the "tremendous strain" potentially posed by the combination mommy/career track. While she personally was able to maintain the course of her career, she says she knows others who either dropped out or waited to have a family and then were not able to have children. She points to recent campus policies aimed at relieving such situations, including Tenure Clock Stoppage and Active Service-Modified Duties, by which faculty duties are reduced for new parents.
For Ella Wheaton, the Staff Ombudsperson and a fellow member on the advisory committee, the consuming issue was seeing her aging parents through terminal illnesses.
For six years, she often "burned the candle at both ends," working and caring for a mother with cancer and a father with Alzheimer's disease.
"I think one of the hardest things," says Wheaton, "was finding the right resources. If there had been a Norma then (Norma Grimm, the elder care counselor who joined CARE Services last year) it would have been so much easier. At the time, I would get phone numbers for agencies that I thought could help me, and then I'd call, and they didn't know what I was talking about. Now we have a person on campus who not only is right on top of all this, she also can help you look down the road and prepare for the next step."
In her ombudsperson role, Wheaton agrees with Gopnik that it is important for staff to be aware of the policies and resources presented in the guide, so that they know where and how to ask for help. For staff members, awareness of options such as modified work days or telecommuting can aid in asking for flexible work arrangements.
"Employees need to take that responsibility. But it also is important, maybe even more important, for supervisors to be well-versed with this guide. They need to be knowledgeable about university resources and policies to assist employees who might benefit from using them," Wheaton says.
Update of 1992 Guide
The new guide, says Carol Hoffman, a manager in faculty/staff health services at the Tang Center and advisory committee co-chair, has its origins in the 1992 "A Guide for Working Parents," which focused on child care. When a subsequent survey showed vast numbers of campus employees had dependent care responsibilities far exceeding child care, the committee brought elder care into its focus as well.
"A Guide for Balancing Work and Family" includes an updated and expanded version of the 1992 guide, plus a section on flexible work arrangements and a comprehensive section on elder care. The elder care section includes not only the care of aging adults but also any disabled or dependent adult.
The section on policies and benefits includes a number of additions and changes such as the Family Medical Leave Act, Leave for Day Care and School Activities, Leave Sharing, Telecommuting, and the Tenure Clock Stoppage and Active Service-Modified Duties policies mentioned above.
A Guide for Balancing Work and Family
What it is: An updated and expanded version of the 1992 "Guide for Working
Parents." The new 55-page guide is divided into four parts:
· Part one (updated), on university policies, benefits and programs
· Part two (new), on flexible work arrangements
· Part three (updated), on how to find and evaluate child care
· Part four (new), on providing care for parents and other dependent adults
How to get it: Order through your department benefits counselor; request storehouse item #E6213.
Website version: Available later this spring on the Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Dependent Care website: www.chance.berkeley.edu/depcare/. Watch for an announcement in Berkeleyan.
For information: Call University Health Services, 642-6621