Balancing a career and family life can be a difficult task to accomplish. That’s why UCF is implementing an array of new programs aimed at helping faculty, staff and students better handle the stress of maintaining careers, while balancing family life.
From changes in Human Resources to encourage spouses to apply for jobs at UCF, to a parking program that gives expectant mothers access to parking spots closer to the buildings they work in, the university is working to make UCF as inclusive as possible.
UCF is developing a new program that will hire “top-notch academic partners,” said Christine Dellert, senior director of internal communications for the university. The dual-career hiring program is aimed at recruiting high-quality professors that will allow UCF to continue advancing scholarship and research to better serve students and increase the number of tenured and tenure-earning faculty, Dellert said.
“UCF aims to be an environment for families,” she said. “So we continue to look for ways to best support our faculty and their families.”
Details will be shared once the program is fully developed and launched.
The Center for Success of Women Faculty is now in Phase 2 of a trial program that will offer expectant mothers reserved parking spaces on campus. The program, which is aimed to increase accessibility for pregnant women on campus, was piloted earlier this year.
Expectant mothers, who are in their third trimester, or at high risk before the third trimester, can elect to reserve an expectant-mother parking space in their permitted lot. For convenience, a spot may be selected by the expectant mother to provide a location with closer proximity to her primary destination. The program currently has 19 women involved and expects to be fully approved by January.
If you qualify for this program and wish to participate, fill out the expectant mothers parking form.
Creative School opens to Alumni Members
The Creative School on the main campus is home to a National Association for the Education of Young Children-accredited program that takes care of children ages six weeks to age 5. The facility, near the campus water tower, gives priority and a discounted rate to UCF students, faculty and staff and if there is room to community members. Starting this fall, alumni will also get priority placement. Alumni can check the rates here.
“The goal is to provide our UCF community with a quality program so they can study and work knowing their child is in a safe and nurturing place, where they are learning and growing,” said Amy Hesse, director of the center. Currently the Creative School has full-time openings in the 3-year-old and VPK classes. Infants, toddlers and 2s are not available now.
The school combines the safety and wellbeing of children with academic programming. To that end, the school is working with the Nature Explore certification program to have the school’s Outdoor Learning Environment become a certified outdoor classroom. The national initiative recognizes schools and other organizations that are committed “to providing outdoor classrooms and comprehensive programming to help children use the natural world as an integral part of learning.”
The Arbor Day Foundation and Dimensions Foundation are sponsoring the initiative in collaboration with environmental, educational, design and health organizations.
“Our outdoor space is unrivaled in early childhood programs in the Orlando area or even the state,” Hesse said. “With the help of landscape architects, educational specialists and our friends at the UCF Arboretum, we will enhance our outdoor area with new learning centers, including a community garden, water feature, music and movement space, art area and a gathering space.”
And to ensure all families have access to a quality program, the school is working with School Readiness, a statewide program that offers financial assistance to low-income families for early care and education.
The program’s goals are to prepare children to start kindergarten on time, help working families afford quality early care, keep parents working and/or continuing an education, and help families become financially independent. Eligibility requirements can be found at https://4cflorida.org/parents/school-readiness-sr/. Parents can apply online at https://familyservices.floridaearlylearning.com/.
“We’re thrilled to be offering our services to our immediate and wider UCF community, including our littlest Knights,” Hesse said.
UCF Faculty Parents Network
The UCF Faculty Parents Network Facebook page is another resource geared towards helping faculty and staff members with their career-life balance.
Launched in 2011, the page helps facilitate conversations between those who are parents or thinking of becoming parents. It also helps new hires to get acquainted with other faculty and staff who have children.
Members post questions that other UCF parents can help with, such as suggestions for pediatricians and baby sitters. They will often also discuss free family events or topics of interest, such as the rising cost of health care.
The page is a closed group, but anyone who is a faculty member or employee of UCF can join by searching “UCF Faculty Parents Network” on Facebook and requesting access or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
For mothers returning to work or school after having a baby, UCF offers convenient and secure lactation privacy rooms. With multiple locations throughout the main campus and some regional campuses, mothers can return to work without the stress of figuring out where they can express milk. These rooms provide a work surface, chair, cleaning supplies and other useful resources. Lactation privacy rooms are located at:
Faculty, staff and students can also participate in a number of workshops offered by different departments on campus. Workshops are offered throughout each semester. Workshops cover topics such as caring for family members with disabilities, elder care, work-life balance, expectant parents, effective communication in relationships, and more.
“Our center is working hard to make UCF more family-friendly,” said Linda Walters, director of the Center for Success of Women Faculty, which launched the parking program for expectant mothers. The center offers an array of other services to help create a supportive network among women faculty.
Mentoring addresses issues through facilitated group sessions that cover an array of topics including: how to make UCF more family-friendly, career road-mapping, and career-life balance among others.
Women faculty who are full-time UCF employees are eligible to apply to become mentors, mentees or dual-role. To learn more about how to get involved with faculty mentoring visit, faculty mentoring or email Fran Ragsdale at email@example.com.
“Our center has been excited to help get the ball rolling in some cases and act as advocates and support for other initiatives,” Walters said.
The Orlando Sentinel also named UCF one of the Top 100 Companies for Working Families in 2015.