October 04, 2012

Staffer helps start Working Parents Network

Posted: October 04, 2012
ASU's Jennifer Kampp with daughter, Chloe, on Mother's Day.
Photo by: Courtesy of Kampp

When Jennifer Kampp returned to her position as executive assistant of ASU’s Office of Public Affairs after taking a maternity leave to have her daughter, she “felt like a fish out of water. Everything at work was the same, but I wasn’t the same,” she said.

Overwhelmed by the transition from new motherhood back to career mode, Kampp struggled to find on-campus resources available to new parents. Certain that she was not alone in her pursuit, Kampp felt a growing desire to connect with other new parents at ASU who were experiencing the same things she was. Spurred on by this feeling, she decided she needed to take action and began brainstorming.

The eureka moment happened as Kampp was reading a blog on Fit Pregnancy that talked about the importance of having a support group at work for parents. She sent a link to the blog along with her ideas to ASU Human Resources, who referred her to the Employee Assistance Office.

As luck would have it, the EAO was in the midst of brainstorming something very similar to what Kampp had in mind. Suzanne Jacobs and Korah Hoffman of the EAO worked with HR to survey ASU employees who had recently taken a parental leave to create a distribution list of people interested in joining a group for new, working parents. Thrilled that Kampp was willing to take the initiative, the EAO agreed to be the official group sponsor and designated her coordinator. Thus, the Working Parents Network was born.

The WPN is an on-campus resource for parents of children five and under that meets the second Thursday of each month from 12 to 1 p.m., at the Fulton Center, in room 2490. During meetings, members share resources, have discussions about anything and everything parent/child-related and work on building a support network.

Because the WPN is still in its infancy, now is the perfect time to join up and help influence the path it takes. It is a peer-led group, which means that while Kampp is the coordinator, no one person is in charge. The members decide what is discussed and thereby determine what they get out of it.

During a recent meeting, a popular concern that was brought up was how to carve out time for fitness with a busy schedule as a working parent. Kampp and members addressed the issue and came up with a list of on-campus fitness classes, as well as an idea to assemble a “walking group” that could meet a few times a week to walk around the air-conditioned Wells Fargo Arena during their lunch break.

Kampp also has been working on finding guest speakers for the group’s meetings. In September, Hoffman and Jacobs gave a presentation on work-life balance and Maureen Duane from ASU Family Resources will join the October meeting to talk about child care options. Chari Woodward, with the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Preschool, is also slated to speak about child development stages at a future meeting and contact has been made with First Things First, a statewide organization committed to helping Arizona children five and younger prepare for a successful future in education.

In addition to guest speakers, Kampp has reached out to magazines, such as Raising Arizona Kids, who have agreed to provide print materials to the WPN, free of charge for all members. Left-over copies of the magazines are distributed to the lactation rooms around the campuses, via Family Resources, for nursing moms to enjoy. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix also has agreed to provide donated guest passes to group members.

WPN member Jamillah Anderson pitched in by volunteering her free time and tech smarts to create a WPN website: asuworkingparents.webs.com, where members can learn about on-campus and community resources. It also provides an avenue for the group to virtually connect with each other via an online forums option. Kampp also sends out bi-weekly emails with additional resources and updates.

While Kampp is very enthusiastic about this initiative and has high hopes for its future, she acknowledges that it may not be for everyone.

“Some people don’t feel the need for a parenting support network, and that’s totally fine,” she says. “I did, and that’s why I wanted to help create the Working Parents Network – so if you are one of those people who need it, it’s here.”

In time, Kampp hopes to work with HR to make sure employees who are about to go on parental leave are aware that the WPN is available to them when they return. She also believes there is a possibility of the opportunity to have a WPN for parents of kids of all ages.

“It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, as parents at every stage need support,” says Kampp.

Meanwhile, she is excited to be associated with the EAO, whose reputation for providing quality services to ASU employees free of charge is well-revered, and also quite happy with everything that has been accomplished so far.

Emma Greguska, emma.greguska@asu.edu
ASU media relations