Beginning in fall 2017, GSAS will provide PhD students with a free Care.com premium membership, normally offered at an annual cost of $140, and subsidized access to backup care for children and adult family members. This new benefit came about after a member of the executive board of the Graduate Student Council asked GSAS to investigate the feasibility of providing Care.com access to graduate students.
Care.com will enable PhD students to use a self-service, digital platform to search for, vet, connect with, and ultimately select caregivers in a reliable and easy way. In addition to the self-service option, GSAS will subsidize the cost of in-home and center-based backup care for those times when regular care arrangements are unavailable. A pre-vetted caregiver will be selected by Care.com; in-home care will cost PhD students $5 per hour (compared with the $16 per hour caregiver fee paid by staff and faculty), and center-based child care will cost $10 per child, per day. PhD students are eligible for a maximum of 10 days of care per year (October 1 through September 30), which can be used for child and/or adult care.
Blakely O’Connor is the secretary of the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and as the GSC’s at-large representative for SEAS last year, she raised the idea of Care.com membership at a meeting with the GSAS dean and administrators. “I previously used Care.com to find a nanny-share for my son when I returned to classes and research, and found the experience to be a positive one,” she says. “Now that my son is in preschool, I plan to use the Care.com benefit to provide childcare for the occasions where I must work on weekends or when my daycare center is closed for teacher training.”
In addition to her work with the GSC, O’Connor also co-chairs the Harvard GSAS Student-Parents Organization, which advocates for institutional and financial support for graduate student–parents, as well as foster a sense of community among the student families at GSAS. In this role, she is pleased to see GSAS offer Care.com as a benefit for graduate students. “I am especially happy to see the addition of this benefit as a part of a larger trend of graduate student–parent support,” she says. “From the expansion of the Parental Accommodation and Financial Support program last year, to the first annual GSAS Families Brunch this year, GSAS is making great strides to ensure students with children and families feel supported.”
To take advantage of this benefit, students must preregister and sign a waiver. For more information and details about when the benefit will be available, visit gsas.harvard.edu/care.