Faculty receive new care benefits
Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 10, 2013 02:10
As of the start of this academic year, university employees have access to up to 20 days of in-home child and adult care each calendar year.
According to former co-chair for the Tufts Arts, Sciences and Engineering Work/Life Balance Task Force Elizabeth Remick, the new benefit will help employees manage the complex task of balancing work and life and will serve as a safety net in unforeseen family circumstances. The new benefit is provided through a partnership with Care.com Back Up Care, a Waltham, Mass. based caregiver service.
Remick stated that when female employees were asked what institutional change could help them get their jobs done, backup childcare was the response she heard most.
“A lot of employees noted that when their children were sick and they weren’t able to come to Tufts to teach a class, it wasn’t always possible to find backup help at the last minute, and they would consequently have no other options but to cancel their lecture,” Remick said.
With the new program — known as Parents in a Pinch — in place, employees will have someone to call at the last minute, Remick said.
In order to choose which care provider they would use, the university underwent a formal request for proposal (RFP), Remick explained. Services provided by Care.com seemed superior to those of their competitors, she said.
“Care.com is an organization that a number of similar colleges and universities are using, and it has very positive reviews,” she said.
Director of the Benefits and Human Resources Service Center Ann Mackenzie said that one of the best parts of Care.com Back Up Care is that it does not focus solely on childcare, but also provides adult care for employee’s personal needs.
This added elder and adult care is especially significant for Tufts employees, Mackenzie explained. Of the 187 faculty members in both the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering who responded to a Higher Education Research Institute survey, 26 percent reported that they experience stress related to elder or adult care issues.
“If any employee needs help caring for an elderly parent or helping their sick spouse or partner, they can use this service to get help,” Mackenzie said. “We can also call Care.com to take care of ourselves. If I had surgery, for example, and wasn’t able to take care of myself, the company would send someone to help me until I was recovered.”
Mackenzie explained that the university began advertising the new benefit in August — first through an email and more recently through a postcard outlining the services. Although the added benefit is less than a semester old, both Remick and Mackenzie noted that it has already been used extensively. The cost for childcare is $15 per hour and the adult care rate is $16 per hour.
Remick was glad that the in-home care was finally available.
“This service to provide for our employees has been talked about for a number of years, and it has always been a goal of ours,” Remick said.