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Lessons from the Pandemic: Child Care for Essential Workers

December 22, 2020

interracial family essential workers

Takeaways:

  • Adventist HealthCare’s investments were a direct result of what they heard from employees
  • Partnering with organizations, such as The Lourie Center and KinderCare, allowed Adventist HealthCare to move quickly and rely on the expertise of those organizations

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March, companies had to quickly adjust in order to support their employees with the changes that were taking place. For many, child care was the number one issue.

With child care centers and schools closing, employees were losing who they relied on to watch their children while they were at work. Adventist HealthCare was committed to caring for health care workers and their families; allowing them to serve the community.

Planning for the global pandemic began well in advance of the onset of surging patient volumes during the month of March. The United States had the benefit of seeing the global healthcare struggles of European countries. To successfully navigate COVID-19, Adventist HealthCare was determined to onboard additional medical personnel, introduce programs and services to support employees and elevate their focus on emotional health to prevent compassion fatigue and burnout.

Finding Solutions Quickly

The first step to implementing a robust program offering was to identify resources that were free or currently existed within the health system . Offering employees the flexibility to revise their scheduling preferences to ensure their families are cared for was paramount. When possible, employees had the opportunity to work remotely and had the flexibility to care for their children while working.

Adventist HealthCare leveraged the support of LifeWork Strategies, their embedded employee assistance program (EAP) provider. In addition to counseling services, the benefit also included child, dependent and elder care resources. Through the EAP, employees received resources to locate childcare and information on what to include in the selection process when considering their options.

Another existing resource within Adventist HealthCare was The Lourie Center, a private, nonprofit agency focused on improving the social and emotional health of young children and their families. The facility and staff were also impacted by government closures. Rather than sit idle, the organization lobbied for special permission from the state of Maryland for licensure as a childcare provider and open their doors to healthcare workers’ children.

LifeWork Strategies’ licensed clinical social workers (LCSW) also coordinated employee support groups. Offered twice per day at shift change, these groups encouraged individuals the opportunity to share experiences and learn strategies to manage stress, grief and burnout.

Recognizing these resources would be quickly consumed, Adventist HealthCare partnered with KinderCare to leverage their expertise and direct our families to two facilities in the Washington, D.C. area that were filled with fellow family members of emergency personnel. By providing subsidized or free child care to our workforce, Adventist HealthCare was able to increase the level of care that our nurses, clinicians and dietary workers were able to give to our patients.

Looking Ahead

Through these resources, employees felt supported throughout the system. The stark line between work and home had been blurred and the organization strengthened their commitment to work-life balance. With the support of Adventist HealthCare leadership, the programs put in place during the pandemic have continued. As a faith-based hospital system, Adventist HealthCare answers the call to serve not only the community, but employees and their families.

About LifeWork Strategies

To learn more about LifeWork Strategies, a national provider for EAP and how they can assist your business, visit https://www.lifeworkstrategies.com/lws/ or call 800-777-8138 to request a free consultation.

**Note: This post is the second in a series of posts about the business community’s investments in early childhood education before, during, and post-COVID-19 pandemic. Please read the first and second posts in this series.


 

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Julia Barfield, MPH, MSW, is the senior manager of policy and programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce. Barfield leads the Chamber Foundation's early childhood education portfolio, which includes educating and engaging the businesses community to invest in young children and their families. Barfield received her B.A. from Westmont College in Anthropology and Hispanic Studies and has dual master’s in Social Work and Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She lives in Washington, D.C.

 


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Topics: Business Operations for CCR&Rs, Health & Safety, Coronavirus

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