Embracing a new concept

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With qualified workers in short supply, employers are getting creative in their attempts to mine the pool of available talent. United Wisconsin Services in Milwaukee has come up with a unique way to tap the skills of parents who would like to work, but whose first commitment is to their children. The newly created Parents Program allows working mothers and fathers to spend 19 hours a week at work, and still have the ability to be with their children at all times, says United Wisconsin employment supervisor Shannon O’Brien.
The 13 working parents in the program work from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, processing Compcare claims in an office at 3rd and Cherry Streets. The working parents are allowed to take time off when their children are not in school, and they have summers off.
“Because the market is so tight right now, this was a way of tapping into a population that others haven’t gotten to yet,” O’Brien says. “We wanted to try and cater to a different population, to people who may only have the need to work on a part-time basis, but still want to be there for their children.”
According to Paula Acker, a supervisor with Compcare Blue Cross National Government, who works part-time herself, the employees who began the program in November like the job because there is no “latch-key” anxiety that they are at work while their children are left home unattended.
Carol Aberg of Mequon previously worked for a large telephone company, but when her job was eliminated, she decided to stay at home with her two children.
“The only job that met my needs was on the third shift,” Aberg says. “That’s what most mothers end up working if they want to work.”
Aberg says processing claims for Compcare is perfect in that it allows her to still be with her children at all times. She learned about the job through a flyer that was distributed through schools and area churches.
“My sister brought this [flyer] home, and I couldn’t believe it,” Aberg recalls. “I had so many exceptions. I remember my family saying that I would never find a job like this. This is an actual day job where I can come in and feel like a normal human being. And, nobody knows that I’m even gone.”

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