Faculty, staff and learners partner with Family Care Task Force to forge solutions

December 11, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

Hundreds of faculty, staff and learners from across Michigan Medicine worked closely with the Family Care Task Force (FCTF) over the past four months to develop a set of creative solutions intended to address the growing challenges of managing professional and personal family care responsibilities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FCTF recently submitted proposals to Michigan Medicine leadership, the provost’s office and University Human Resources, and several have been implemented, including:

The task force is investigating additional solutions, including adding capacity for cost-conscious child care for U-M employees and supporting families in greatest financial need.

“Leadership has heard your voices and the challenges our community is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said task force co-chairs Brian J. Zink, M.D., interim executive vice dean for academic affairs and senior associate dean for faculty and faculty development in the Medical School, and Amanda K. Thatcher, academic chief of staff and director of communications for the Medical School. “The task force intends to keep the lines of communication open with leadership as the pandemic progresses, as there are evolving family care needs.”

In order to understand more about family care needs during COVID-19, the task force created and a deployed the Needs Assessment and Data Collection tool in early August. All 30,450 faculty, staff and learners received the survey and 21.4% responded. It was found that 89% of the 6,513 survey respondents with dependents reported that COVID-19 has disrupted their family care arrangements, primarily due to school and day care closures or lack of availability of caregivers from outside the home. In addition, the task force invited faculty, staff and learners to participate in focus groups to hear more about their individual challenges. Many shared emotional stories about how unanticipated family care challenges have affected their work and home lives.

Through this outreach, the task force identified four ways that the pandemic has a had significant impact on employees who are caregivers:

  • Increased burnout and reduced well-being
  • Reduced productivity, leading to concerns about career trajectory
  • Financial stress
  • Recognition and increase of inequity

The task force is receiving feedback at: familycaretaskforce@umich.edu.