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NIH Record

New 'Friendly' Resource Emerges
Work and Family Life Center To Open on Campus, Nov. 25

By Carla Garnett

Laura is retiring from NIH in a couple of months. Along with other adjustments to her lifestyle, she's considering a part-time job to pad her income, but she wonders where to start looking for suitable work. Ken's elderly parents are reaching the point where they can no longer stay home alone. He's heard of elder care options, but he's curious about which programs are available and convenient. Paul and his wife are relocating with her job to the Rocky Mountain region. He'd like to move his 11-year federal career as well. How would he go about finding a government position in his field thousands of miles away?

Personal dramas like the fictional ones described above coincide with people's worklives all the time, usually with employees either casually networking among coworkers for manageable solutions or consulting outside sources for help and information. Now, however, there is another, easier and more convenient recourse for employees looking for answers.

Recently NIH's Office of Human Resource Management established an interinstitute consortium that currently includes NIAID, NIAMS, NIDDK and the NIH Office of the Director. In turn, the consortium developed a Work and Family Life Center (WFLC), which will give NIH'ers more centralized and more formal access to a wider array of resources. Located in Bldg. 31, WFLC offers a variety of services workers can use to help balance the growing demands of career and family. The center, which officially opens on Nov. 25, is just the latest in a series of efforts NIH hopes will improve the worklives of its employees.

"As part of the Quality of Worklife Initiative, HHS Secretary Shalala encouraged the department to be a family friendly workplace," explains NIAMS Personnel Officer Lucia C. Biederman, who with the help of the consortium got the center up and running. "NIH strongly supports this initiative and recognizes that employees have responsibilities to their families and personal lives, in addition to their jobs. The agency created the WFLC to provide information to employees as they strive to balance family and workplace pressures."

Modeled after a similar facility at HHS headquarters downtown, NIH's center will offer a resource library with more than 300 books, pamphlets, cassette tapes, videotapes and directories on work and family issues; access to computer services, including the Internet and electronic resumé and job application preparation; career information, including job opportunities in and outside the federal government; and a specialized consultation program that will provide confidential, one-on-one sessions on such topics as federal retirement benefits, life and health insurance options, and career development planning.

While the resource library and most other WFLC services will be available free to all NIH'ers, the consultation sessions will be offered without charge only to employees of ICDs that are represented on the interinstitute consortium. Employees of other ICDs can arrange appointments with center advisers on a fee-for-service basis. The center will also offer 12 seminars throughout the year on such issues as job interview skills, KSA preparation, long-distance caregiving, developmental stages of children, and other work and family matters. A resource fair bringing community dependent care service providers to campus is also being coordinated by the center.

Consortium members, who expressed interest last March in creating the venture for their employees, contributed funds, staff, expertise and/or other resources to the project. More ICDs are encouraged to join the partnership in the coming months, broadening the range of services and lowering individual ICD costs.

NIH joins other federal entities such as the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Social Security Administration, the departments of Labor and Justice, and the Office of Personnel Management in establishing work and family life centers for their employees.

For more information on the center, call 435-1619, TTY 480-0690, fax 480-0606, email wflc@od.nih.gov, or drop by Bldg. 31, Rm. B3C15, near the parking office. Center hours are weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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