Back-up Care, Babysitters

Back-up Care

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 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 backup care options to assist you in those situations.

Harvard has contracted with for a suite of services known as Care @ Work which includes two types of back-up care available to all benefits-eligible faculty and staff on  a regular Harvard payroll:

  • In-home backup child care services: This service sends a screened and trained caregiver to your home. Learn more about the details of the in-home service.
  • Center-based backup 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. For summer 2020, Harvard is further subsidizing this rate: For care that is booked after July 1, 2020, and takes place between July 1 through August 31, 2020, benefits-eligible employees will pay $3, $6 or $10 per hour, according to their Harvard benefits salary bracket. For center-based care, the cost to the employee will be $10 per day ($35 per day in typical times). These copays wil will be automatically updated within the portal once you have created and account and logged into the portal.

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 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's app. Get detailed registration information and learn about what Care @ Work offers.

Financial Assistance for Backup Care
Eligible employees can be reimbursed up to $350 per year for backup 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.

Nannies and Babysitters

The following resources can help you find a full-time nanny or an occasional babysitter:

  • 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 other more. They also offer a babysitter subscription service. BNC offers Harvard affiliates 10% off any service. You can read more about BNC and their services by visiting their website.

  • 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, 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 paper document by scanning it or taking a clear picture of it and emailing ( 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). 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 on a daily basis. Please go here to see complete registration details and learn about all services available from

If you have questions, please contact Harvard’s Office of Work/Life at or 617-495-4100.