As much as parents plan ahead, there are times when back-up and short-notice care is required, such as the illness of your caregiver, stay-at-home spouse/partner or child, when your regular program or center is closed, when you're between caregiving arrangements or other times when you need to be at work and your regular care is not available. Harvard employees have access to back-up care options to assist you in those situations.
Harvard has contracted with Care.com for a suite of services known as Care @ Work. The Back-Up Care component provides back-up child and adult care. Benefits-eligible employees may use up to 20 days per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30) of all back-up care services combined. This benefit is intended to be used for back-up care purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for routine child care arrangements.
This benefit includes two types of back-up care available to all benefits-eligible faculty and staff on a regular Harvard payroll:
In-home back-up child care services: This service sends a screened and trained caregiver to your home.
- Note: During the period of the pandemic, Care.com has broadened the services of their vetted, in-home back-up care providers to include the ability to supervise a child’s remote/distance learning. When booking online or by phone, you will have the opportunity to indicate that you would like a back-up caregiver to do this.
Learn more about the details of the in-home service.
- Center-based back-up child care in local child care centers: The extent to which centers will be able to offer back-up services during the COVID-19 crisis is not yet clear. Where and when available, this service will be accessible through the Care @ Work portal.
Cost: In typical times, in-home care is $16 per hour for a minimum of four hours.Through the end of June 2022, in response to continuing COVID-related caregiving challenges, Harvard is further subsidizing this rate. For care that is booked on or after July 1, 2021, and takes place between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, benefits-eligible employees will pay $6 or $12 per hour, according to their Harvard benefits salary bracket. For center-based care, the cost to the employee will be $35 per day. These copays will be automatically updated and displayed within the Care.com portal once you have created an account and logged into the portal.
Please note that back-up care subsidy amounts in excess of $5,000 per year (including Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account contributions if any) are considered imputed income by the IRS and may be subject to taxes; learn more.
How to get started with back-up care: Register before you need it! To use any service provided by Care @ Work, Harvard faculty and staff must first complete and return a waiver. Once the Office of Work/Life receives this waiver, the employee's name is added to an automatic filed feed that goes to Care.com. This initial process can take 24 hours, but once you are registered, you can make short-notice care requests over the phone, on-line or via Care.com's app. Get detailed registration information and learn about what Care @ Work offers.
Financial Assistance for Back-up Care
Eligible employees can be reimbursed up to $350 per year for back-up care you choose, including care provided by a friend, neighbor, relative, other in-home provider, or licensed child care center through the SOURCE program. Benefits-eligible employees with a full-time equivalent annual salary of less than $75,000 (FTE) are eligible.
The following resources can help you find a full-time nanny or an occasional babysitter: Only you know what child care arrangement will be right for your family. We encourage you to review these and other available resources and to consider the safety and appropriateness of any child care provider or setting.
Boston Nanny Centre (BNC) provides a range of nanny-placement services to Harvard University affiliate families. BNC nanny-placement services range from comprehensive placement packages to a-la-carte services such as in-depth consultation, background checks, post-hire contract support, and more. They also offer a babysitter subscription service. BNC offers Harvard affiliates 10% off any service. Learn more about BNC in the Nanny Placement section of the Finding Child Care page.
Harvard Student Employment Office: You can search for babysitters using the Harvard Student Employment Office website. Under “Employers” in the right column, select the link to “Hiring for Household Help.”
Online self-service search for caregivers through Care @ Work: If you are a benefits-eligible Harvard employee, you have unlimited, free access to Care.com, a self-service online database of caregivers.
- Note: Register before you need it! To use any service provided by Care @ Work, Harvard faculty and staff must complete and return a waiver. You must submit this document by emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) it to the University’s Office of Work/Life. (While email is preferred, faxing is also possible at 617-495-4124. If you fax, please follow up with an email so we know to look for your form). This can take 24 hours, so please register early. Staff and faculty need only register once and do not need to register again at any subsequent time. Once the Office of Work/Life receive this waiver, the employee's name is added to an automatic filed feed that goes to Care.com on a daily basis. Please go here to see complete registration details and learn about all that Care @ Work offers.
- Note: Caregivers on the digital, self-service platform are not necessarily licensed or fully background-checked. For more information on Care.com's security practices, please see their Safety Center and read about additional background checks available for purchase.
- Note: In response to disrupted school and child care arrangements, Care @ Work is offering new features. These include (1) shared care, which lets families find one another to create a nanny-share or a learning pod, and (2) providers who represent themselves as distance-learning facilitators or tutors.
Once you have submitted a waiver, you can create a Care.com account and explore their offerings at HU.Care.com.
If you have questions, please contact Harvard’s Office of Work/Life at email@example.com or 617-495-4100.