4 tips for finding backup care during bad winter weather.
Post adapted from Care.com’s Articles and Resources, Snow Days: How to Prepare for a Last-Minute Care Crisis, by Julie Z. Rosenberg.
The great thing about today’s sophisticated storm tracking equipment is that it allows us to prepare for extreme weather well in advance. Shovel? Check. Rock salt? Check. Hot cocoa and marshmallows? Check. Backup child care plan? Oh, need to get on that.
With schools bound to close at some point during the winter, caregiver driveways certain to be snowed-in and jobs still needing your attendance, how do you get a babysitter during a snowstorm? Here’s advice for winter storm prep that will get you to work and your kids cared for — no matter how miserable it is outside.
Tip 1: Watch the Weather
Justin McNaull, director of state relations for AAA agrees: “Pay attention to the weather at least 24 hours ahead. If it’s obvious you’re going to get a ton of snow and the roads aren’t going to be safe to travel, you generally have a chance to figure it out with at least a couple hours of warning.”
Tip 2: Call in the Backup Care Cavalry
Washington and Lee subsidizes 60% of last minute backup dependent care. This program offers employees affordable child care with the provider of your choice. Employees and spouses can post last minute job needs on the Care.com website or use another caregiver. The trick to using Care.com for backup care is to register before the snow comes to ensure you’re in their system.
Keep in mind, though, that snowstorms often mean closed roads and travel safety warnings. In those cases, it may be challenging to find a backup caregiver if they aren’t within walking distance of your house. You can also search for caregivers by zip code or browse their vital stats and availabilities.
Word to the wise: start assembling your backup care cavalry before the first snow falls. Line up interviews with walking-distance backup care providers, use our Safety Center tips and tools to narrow your choices, and add the ones you love to your list of favorites.
Tip 3: Enlist Local High-Schoolers to Help Out
Teenagers make great babysitters, especially in a pinch. Since they’re still in school, they typically get the same snow days as your kids, so you can consider them a great last-minute care option as well.
Keep in mind that just because they’re teenagers, that doesn’t mean that they’re unprofessional or inexperienced. On the contrary, many teenagers take child care classes and receive first aid and CPR training — and you should look for one who has these skills. And when you hire a teenager to watch your kids, remember that you’re also getting the benefit of maturity — but not too much. They’re still young enough to understand how to be silly and have fun like a kid. They’ve probably babysat for younger siblings, know lots of fun games and know how to keep your kids entertained. Plus, teenagers have the energy to keep up with them! Start building relationships with the teens in your neighborhood who you’d feel comfortable having as your Plan B…or C or D.
Tip 4: Start a Group in the Care.com Community
If you’re really in a bind for emergency backup care, consider starting a local parent groups in the Care.com Community. This will help you create connections with other families in your area and give you an extra backup care option when all else fails. For example, you can start a group for all the parents in your neighborhood and use that as a way to organize group playdates. Or, you can create a group for all the parents in your child’s school system. Not only will these groups provide you with extra peace of mind in an emergency, but they’ll also give you an opportunity to establish new friendships as well!
The Benefits Committee recently approved two important and positive changes for employees of Washington and Lee University.
Beginning immediately the university is offering interest-free loans to purchase a personal computer and printer. Employees must have completed six or more months in a benefit eligible position. Loans may not exceed $4,000 and must be re-paid within 24 months through payroll deduction. For more information about this loan program, contact Suzannah Vess in Human Resources at x8348.
The second change benefits current and future retirees. Employees can retire as early as age 59.5 with ten years of full-time service and continue on the university’s health insurance – however the university does not currently contribute to the health insurance premium for dependents. Effective July 1, 2017, the group health insurance rates for retirees will be the same as for employees no matter the plan level (individual only, employee plus one or family). Other benefits for retirees remain the same. If you are interested in learning more about retiring early, contact Deborah Stoner in Human Resources at x8923.
Please share this good news with co-workers
who don’t regularly check their W&L email.
This is a reminder of University policy when the weather threatens safe travel. Official announcements about a closing, delayed opening or early release will be made through broadcast email, the Emergency Hotline (540-458-5277) and will be posted on the university’s website. Additional communication outlets can be found in the employee handbook.
In the event of inclement weather and the delay or closing of the University or early release of employees, the following provisions apply to non-essential employees.
Employees who report to work later than the delayed opening time should charge the time between the time the university opens until their arrival to CTO. Regularly scheduled hours until the delayed opening should be charged to university holiday/closing. Employees who do not report to work should use CTO for the entire day. With supervisor approval, time can be made up during the same pay period.
Employees who leave work earlier than the early release time should charge the time between their departure and the early release to CTO. Regularly scheduled hours after the early release should be charged to university holiday/closing. Employees who do not report to work should use CTO for the entire day. With supervisor approval, time can be made up during the same pay period.
Non-essential employees who are not asked to report as outlined above will receive no additional compensation if they choose to work when the University has been delayed, closed or if there is an early release.
Because of the essential nature of their work, Student Health Center nurses, specified employees in Facilities Management, and employees (including non-benefit eligible employees) in Public Safety and Dining Services, are expected to report to work as close to schedule as possible or to continue to work their regular schedule, even when the University is closed, unless they are specifically instructed otherwise. Pay provisions for essential employees can be found in the employee handbook.
If you have questions about the policy, please contact Human Resources. Questions about recording hours in WebAdvisor can be addressed by Payroll.
Please share this important information with co-workers who don’t regularly access their W&L email.
A reminder of the remaining 2016 holidays. Our very best wishes for enjoyable holidays.
Winter Holidays: Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26
New Year’s: Friday, December 30
Departments may choose to close the week of December 26. If so, Tuesday through Thursday, December 27 -29 should be recorded as CTO.
Click here to visit our website for the 2017 holiday schedule.
Open Enrollment for 2017 health plans through the Affordable Care Act’s federally facilitated marketplace began November 1. Enroll by December 15 and your coverage can start January 1, 2017. The last day to enroll in coverage for 2017 is January 31, 2017- the end of open enrollment.
Enrollment Specialists from the Rockbridge Area Health Center (RAHC) will be here this week to help anyone in the community who needs to enroll.
Thursday, November 17 in the Community Room in the Old Courthouse building where is HR is located. They will be here from 10 AM until noon and again from 2 to 4 PM. Stop by anytime. Bring the following:
Dates of birth and social security numbers
Employer and income information for every member of the household (for example, employment paystubs or W-2 forms).
List of current doctors and all medications.
Information about any insurance offered through a job or a family member’s job (even if not currently enrolled).
If re-enrolling, bring User Name and Password.
We are pleased to be able to offer this on-site assistance. Please share the news with your coworkers, friends and family.
Various factors combine during the holiday season to increase our stress level. Shopping, increased spending and travel are mostly positive activities, yet because they happen simultaneously and represent a change in routine, some additional stress may develop.
Remember, you and qualifying family members have access to confidential professional counseling and referral services through the Carilion Employee Assistance Program (EAP). When you call 800-992-1931, the staff will help you to connect with a counselor in our area. Counselors can assess the situation, provide short-term counseling, help you select a specific resource when necessary, and will follow up to ensure you receive quality assistance.
Your initial four sessions with a licensed or certified counselor are free to you. Additional sessions, if needed, will utilize your insurance or community resources.
Your request for assistance and any information that is shared is between you and the counselor. All EAP records are kept strictly confidential. Information from the EAP may be released only with your prior written permission.
So back to stress during the holidays ….
Say “no” to anything that isn’t important to you.
Ask for help. Most people around you actually want to pitch in and help share the load.
Take a break. Meditate, listen to music, stretch, reflect on something positive. Just a few short minutes in the midst of a busy schedule, can be calming.
Take a walk. You may think you don’t have the time — but a brisk walk is not only good for you … the fresh air and sunlight may improve your focus when you return to work.
Our wish for you … happy, stress-free holidays.
A reminder of the free services available through Health Advocate, the nation’s leading healthcare advocacy and assistance company. Health Advocate can find qualified doctors and hospitals, locate and research treatments for a medical condition, resolve insurance claims, uncover billing errors, and help patients prepare for healthcare appointments. They can assist with elder care issues, identify and arrange wellness services, and much more.
When you call, you will talk with a Personal Health Advocate, typically registered nurses who are supported by Medical Directors and benefits specialists, who will personally help you with your issue. The cost for this service is fully funded by the University. Assistance is available to benefit eligible employees, their spouses, domestic partners, dependent children, parents and parents-in-law. Visit our website for more information.
Here’s what we heard over the past year …
My Advocate, Martha, was extremely helpful, courteous and so very nice. She went the extra mile and I really appreciated her soothing handling of my question. It lessened my anxiousness about a situation. Thank you so much. What a nice, nice lady. Efficient. Fabulous. (April 06, 2016)
Very helpful, saved me a lot of time, helped me with issues that I didn’t know much about. A great service! (May 06, 2016)
You are truly a miracle worker! I can’t thank you enough for your persistence, patience, and hard work. I had given up long ago, when I contacted Health Advocate, for one last try. Thanks for keeping me going when I really wanted to throw my arms up in exasperation. (September 30, 2016)
You and your team there are amazing. Really, 6 months ago, when I contacted Health Advocate I was at my wits end. Thank you again! (September 30, 2016)
You all have done and amazing job, and what I thought was an impossible resolution. Thanks so much again! I will definitely reach out again should I need help and will recommend my co-workers do the same if they need reinforcements. (September 30, 2016)
As we head into the cold and flu season, a reminder that Lexington’s new urgent care center, VelocityCare, is available for non-emergency situations. Urgent care centers are most commonly used when you have a need and your primary doctor’s office is not open.
VelocityCare, at 110 Houston Street – Suite D, is open 8 AM to 8 PM Monday through Saturday and 10 AM to 6 PM on Sunday. The phone number is 462-3950. A VelocityCare is opening soon in Raphine.
Using the W&L group health insurance plan, you’d have a $40 copay. Additional charges may apply for other procedures such as x-rays and lab work. A summary of the university’s health insurance plan copays and coinsurance as of July 1 can be found here.
Anthem customers have access to discounts for certain services and products. Here’s a sampling. For the complete list of current discounts, log-in to your online Anthem account and click on “discounts.”
5% off pet insurance from VPI and ASPCA
20% discount on the Forerunner 15, vivofit 2, vivofit 3, vivoactive, vivoactive HR, and vivosmart HR activity trackers from Garmin
50% off All Access enrollment plus 30 days free from Jenny Craig
$20 off a purchase of $80 or more, online or in-store at Performance Bicycle
$20 off orders of $100 or more (and free shipping) from 1-800-CONTACTS and Glasses.com
Up to 50% off hearing aids and a free hearing screening – with Beltone
Preferred pricing on LASIK eye surgery from TruVision doctors
Discounted vitamins, minerals and supplements from Puritan’s Price
25% off Allergy Control products
If you’d like to meet with the TIAA or Fidelity Investment Counselors when they visit W&L, their schedules are below. For those nearing retirement, the counselors can explain the options available for drawing money when you retire and can help with related paperwork. For new employees, the counselors can explain the investment choices and help you set up your retirement account.
We recommend all employees meet annually with a counselor to review your portfolio, beneficiaries, and demographic information. As always, let me know if you have any questions about your retirement benefit or any other employee benefits.
Call 800-732-8353 to schedule an appointment with Kurt Johnson from TIAA. He will be here on November 8 and 15, and December 13 and 15.
Call 800-642-7131 to schedule an appointment with Boyce Brice from Fidelity. He will be here on November 3 and December 1.
Washington and Lee University provides a liberal arts education that develops students' capacity to think freely, critically, and humanely and to conduct themselves with honor, integrity, and civility. Graduates will be prepared for life-long learning, personal achievement, responsible leadership, service to others, and engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.