Back-up Care for Children and Adults

Care @ Work Back-up Care 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.

When to use Back-Up Care

  • Child care  Examples: When a child's regular care is not available (e.g., snow days, planned child-care centers closures, absent nannies), when a child is mildly ill (in-home care only) or when you have to work outside of your regular hours. 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.
    Please note: This benefit is intended to be used for back-up child care purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for routine child care arrangements.
  • Adult care  Examples: For elders or other adults when their regular care arrangement is not available, or for otherwise independent adults – including yourself—who require temporary support when recovering from a medical procedure, illness, or injury. Tasks include preparing meals, light housekeeping, prompting for medication, accompanying a patient to a medical appointment, and assistance with bathing, dressing and mobility. Please note: This benefit is intended to be used for back-up adult care purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for routine care arrangements.

Types of Back-Up Care

  • In-home care  This in-home back-up care service differs from the self-service Care.com database; Care.com has represented that these caregivers are specifically trained, experienced, and vetted to provide in-home back-up care. When you use in-home back-up care, you are gaining access to a smaller pool of caregivers and the professional short-notice placement services of Care @ Work. You can book caregivers online or you can call Care @ Work. When you call for backup in-home care, you can ask to speak to an advisor who can tell you about caregivers' experience and training, and make sure that your questions are answered.
    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.
  • Center-based care  For children under 6, back-up care may be available through a network of child care centers, on a space-available basis.

Register Before You Need It!

Eligible faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows must pre-register by signing and submitting a waiver. You must submit this document by emailing it to (worklife@harvard.edu) 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 process can take 24 hours, so please register before you need the service. Staff and faculty need only register once and do not need to register again at any subsequent time. For more information about registration and to learn about all of Care @ Work's services, please go here.

Eligibility

Benefits-eligible faculty and staff on a regular Harvard payroll may use this service. Please contact your program administrator if you have questions regarding your eligibility.

Cost and Payment

  • In-home child care    In typical times in Massachusetts, in-home care is $16 per hour for a minimum of four hours. Harvard is currently further subsidizing this rate: For care that is booked after July 1, 2021, and takes place between July 1 through June 30, 2022, benefits-eligible employees will pay $6 or $12 per hour, according to their Harvard benefits salary bracket. These copays will be automatically updated and displayed within the Care.com portal once you have created and account and logged into the portal.
  • Please note that in certain metropolitan areas, such as New York City and Washington D.C., higher rates may apply. For children who may need providers with additional experience or a special skill set, this rate may increase. Transportation fees may apply in certain circumstances.There are no administrative or registration fees.
  • Center-based child care  Center-based care is $35 per day. 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.
  • In-home Adult care — In typical times in Massachusetts, the rate for adult care is $16 per hour; hourly rates for other locations vary but typically range from $15 to $18 per hour. In some situations, there may be a four-hour daily minimum. Through the end of 2020, Harvard is further subsidizing this rate: For care that is booked after July 1, 2021, and takes place between July 1 through June 30, 2022, benefits-eligible employees will pay $6 or $12 per hour, according to their Harvard benefits salary bracket.

2021 Hourly Rates for In-Home Back-up Care

Harvard Salary Rate
Under $99,999 $6 per hour
$100,000 or more $12 per hour

Definition of a day

  • One day = one use
  • Minimum reservation and payment = 4 hours
  • Maximum day = 10 hours

Unused Hours

Unused hours from one year may not be carried over into another.

Imputed Income

Please note that if you have a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account and use the back-up care benefit in the same year, you may be subject to imputed income; learn more.

Arranging for Service

Eligible faculty, staff and postdoctoral fellows must: 

  • Pre-register by signing and submitting a waiver. You must submit this document by emailing it to the University’s Office of Work/Life (worklife@harvard.edu). (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 process can take 24 hours, so please register before you need the service. Staff and faculty need only register once and do not need to register again at any subsequent time. You will then be directed to enroll with Care.com. Go here to learn more about the registration process and to learn more about Care @ Work services.
  • Arrange for care by Care.com's portal for Harvard employees (sent to you once you register), via the Care.com app, or by calling 1-855-781-1303 (press 2 for backup care for both children and adults). We suggest 24 hours notice when at all possible. Calling hours are:
    • Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to midnight.
    • Sunday, 5:00 p.m. to midnight.
    • Care @ Work may be reached by voice mail or answering service after hours. Please identify yourself as a corporate client through Harvard University. Your name will be checked against the list of eligible employees who have submitted a waiver. Only employees with a waiver on file can be served.
    • Pay for care: You are responsible for paying the hourly cost of the caregiver. Your credit card will be charged for the hours of care provided.