Looking for backup child care? Need a home health aide to help out with a parent, spouse, or even yourself? Care.com can help!

Care.com allows families to search for, vet, connect with, and ultimately select caregivers in a low-cost, reliable, and easy way. The site helps parents identify babysitters, nannies, child care centers, family day care, camps, tutors, and special needs providers.

GSAS provides PhD students with free access to a Care.com membership, subsidized in-home child and backup adult care, and subsidized backup care at child care centers.

Care.com Child Backup Care helps when:

  • School or daycare is closed
  • Your child is a little bit under the weather
  • You have to work late or on weekends
  • Your nanny goes on vacation

Care.com Adult Backup Care is there for you when:

  • Mom, Dad, or a grandparent needs a ride to doctor's appointments
  • You or your spouse is recovering from surgery
  • You need companion care for your adult child
  • You have a gap in your regular adult or senior care
  • Your parent or grandparent needs specialized support for Alzheimer’s and dementia

Register before You Need It!

To take advantage of this benefit, complete and submit a release form. Once you submit the release form, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to create a Care.com account. Waiver processing takes 24 hours.


PhD students enrolled in GSAS who have pre-registered and signed a waiver.


  • The GSAS benefit subsidizes 10 days of care per year for children and/or adults.
  • Minimum number of hours for care is four hours.
  • Each request for care counts as one day, regardless of the number of hours requested.
  • Benefit year runs from October 1 to September 30.
  • PhD students must have pre-registered and signed a waiver to request care.


GSAS students enrolled in this benefit pay $5/hour co-pay by credit card for in-home childcare and adult care, $10 per child per day at child care centers.

Backup Child and Adult Care Examples

Example 1

Susan has a job interview next week and will need backup child care for her son. She has not yet enrolled with Care.com but hopes to take advantage of the GSAS benefit.

  1. Susan visits gsas.harvard.edu/care to complete and submit the Care.com waiver form, which takes one-to-two business days to process.
  2. Susan receives a confirmation email with enrollment instructions.
  3. Susan visits the GSAS portal at hugsas.care.com to enroll for Care.com services.
  4. After successfully enrolling, Susan can place a request online at hugsas.care.com or call Care.com (1-855-781-1303, extension 2) to request at least four hours of care on the day of her interview (minimum number of hours for care is four).
  5. Care.com calls Susan back and informs her about her caregiver.
  6. The caregiver calls Susan to confirm the details of the child care appointment.
  7. At the time agreed on, the child care provider arrives at Susan’s house and provides child care for her son for four hours.
  8. After the child care services have taken place and the hours have been confirmed, Susan’s credit card is charged a co-pay for the hours of care: a GSAS subsidized rate of $5 per hour for four hours of care equaling $20.
  9. Susan now has nine days of backup child care remaining before the end of the benefit year (September 30).

Example 2

Steve is participating in a conference in New York City for two days and is bringing his daughter with him. He knows he will need eight hours of child care on the first day and four hours of child care on the second day of the conference. He has already enrolled in Care.com and used nine days of child care during the benefit year (since October 1).

  1. Steve places a request for two days of in-center child care near the hotel where he is staying by visiting hugsas.care.com or by calling Care.com at 1-855-781-1303, extension 2.
  2. Because Steve only has one day of GSAS subsidized backup care remaining, he will pay the subsidized rate for the first day of care and an unsubsidized rate for the second day. (Note: Care.com tracks your subsidized backup child care utilization and will alert you when you are close to using up your allotted 10 subsidized backup child care days.)
  3. Steve pays $185 for the two days of backup child care:
    • Day 1 (subsidized): $10 per day (eight hours at the child care center) = $10.
    • Day 2 (unsubsidized): $175 per day for in-center backup care.

Example 3

Maria’s nanny calls at 7:00 a.m. to let her know that she is sick and will not be able to provide her regular child care for Maria’s son. Maria is the key organizer of an all-day student conference that begins at 8:00 a.m. and runs until 5:00 p.m. and needs to arrange backup child care for her son. She has already accessed one day of subsidized child care during the benefit year, with nine days of subsidized child care left.

  1. Maria places a request online at hugsas.care.com or calls Care.com at 1-855-781-1303, extension 2, to arrange for a day of backup child care.
  2. She is reminded that at least 24 hours’ notice is generally required for child care requests; the earliest they can send a child care provider is 11:00 a.m.
  3. Maria requests child care from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  4. Maria arranges for her husband to work from home until the Care.com backup child care provider arrives at 11:00 a.m.
  5. After the child care services have taken place and the hours have been confirmed, Maria’s credit card is charged $5 per hour x 7 hours of care = $35.

Example 4

Benjamin’s grandfather is having surgery in another state and will spend two days in the hospital, followed by a five-day stay in a rehab facility. Once he is discharged from rehab and returns home, he will need help bathing, dressing, preparing meals, and doing light housekeeping, including laundry, for several days. His mother can only help out for two days. Benjamin offers to request help from the adult backup care team at Care.com.

  1. Benjamin has already submitted the waiver to gsas.harvard.edu/care and has already enrolled at hugsas.care.com, so he is eligible to request adult backup care.
  2. Benjamin calls Care.com 1-855-781-1303, extension 2, to speak with an adult backup care specialist.
  3. The specialist asks specific questions about the person needing care. An assessment by the home care agency may be necessary before care can be provided, depending on the need. Once Care.com confirms that the assessment is complete, a call is made to Benjamin to provide him with the caregiver’s name and to confirm how many days of care are needed and what the required number of hours of care will be for each day (minimum number of hours for care is four).
  4. The caregiver shows up at the scheduled time. Once the care has been completed and the hours confirmed, Benjamin’s credit card is charged the hourly co-pay of $5/hour. Benjamin can also arrange for his mother’s or another family member’s credit card to be charged for the care.

Frequently Asked Questions

Backup Care for Children

What are my options?

Choose the backup care that works best for you:

  • In-center care for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years, Monday through Friday during center hours

  • Care in your home, for children from birth to 17 years, 24/7

How much advance notice must I give?

In-home caregivers can often be located within two hours. However, more advance notice increases the chances of a successful match. For in-center care, please allow 48 hours’ notice.

How do I know I’ll be getting quality care?

The Care.com screening process for backup caregivers is rigorous. They conduct interviews, reference checks, Social Security verification, and criminal background checks.

  • All candidates are required to complete orientation and a health and safety training.

  • Centers hire caregivers who are also trained in child development, early childhood education, or a related field.

What should I expect after I make a request?

The Care.com team will work quickly to identify a caregiver or child care center that meets your specific needs.

  • For in-home care, a specialist will contact you about your caregiver, who will call you directly to confirm the details.

  • For in-center care, the specialist will confirm your reservation in an email that includes details about the center.

Will my backup caregiver do all of the things my regular caregiver does?

Backup caregivers come prepared to make sure your children are safe and happy and to keep your home in the same condition you left it. They are not expected to do laundry, errands, or house cleaning.

How do I pay for backup care?

Once care has been provided, your credit card will be charged $5/hour for in-home care and $10/day/child for center-based care.

What’s the cancellation policy?

For in-home care, your credit card will be charged $30 if you cancel after your reservation. For center care, your credit card will be charged your daily co-pay if you cancel within 24 hours of the date of care. The day will be counted towards your allotted days of care.

When can I place a request?

  • When school or day care is closed

  • When your child is a little under the weather

  • Any time you have a gap in your regular child care

Is there a limit to the number of backup care days?

Each PhD student is eligible for a maximum of 10 subsidized days of care per year. These 10 days can be used for child and/or adult care.

Backup Care for Adults

Who in my family is eligible to receive care through my adult care benefit?

Your benefit extends to any adult dependent in your family or extended family, including:

  • Your parents and your spouse’s or partner’s parents

  • Your spouse or partner

  • Grandparents, aunts, and uncles

  • Your adult children

  • Yourself

What if my loved one lives in another city?

While Care.com can’t guarantee a network agency in all locations throughout the country, every effort is made to meet the needs of your adult dependents, wherever they live. Providing information on location and the type of care needed in advance will help ensure the right match.

When are care providers available?

Adult care is available 24/7 (in either your home or the home of the adult needing care). When making arrangements, calling in advance will help to maximize your care options.

How are care providers screened?

Care.com’s adult care network agencies maintain a rigorous screening process for care providers. Depending on the type of care requested, providers may be certified nurse’s aides, home health aides, or experienced elder care companions.

All Care.com providers have:

  • Prior adult care experience

  • Excellent references

  • A clean criminal records check

  • Social Security verification

How do I pay for backup care?

Once care has been received, your credit card will be charged $5/hour for in-home care.

What is the cancellation policy?

For in-home care, your credit card will be charged $30 if you cancel after your reservation. If your caregiver has already arrived or is on her way, you will be charged $60.

Is there a limit to the number of backup care days?

Each PhD student is eligible for a maximum of 10 subsidized days of care per year. These 10 days can be used for child and/or adult care.