Backup Child Care for Students

Backup Child Care for Students

MIT is pleased to offer a program of subsidized backup childcare for MIT undergraduate and graduate students as part of our support for student families. This program is sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education and administered by the MIT Work-Life Center.

Subsidized backup child care is available to all MIT undergraduate and graduate students through Care.com BackupCare, provided by Parents in a Pinch, Inc. at a cost of $5.00 per hour.  MIT has offered backup care through Parents in a Pinch, a nationwide service provider that offers quality in-home child care services, to MIT faculty, staff and postdocs since 2006 and added a subsidized program for students in 2013.

The program creates a safety net for students with families, by providing access to quality caregivers when additional child care is needed.  Screened and trained caregivers are available on short notice to provide child care, day or evening, 7 days a week.  MIT students can request up to 10 days of backup child care referrals annually, for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 8 hours daily.  Any unused days of care will not carry forward into the new fiscal year.  Students will begin each fiscal year with a balance of 10 days of backup child care.

When to Use Backup Child Care

Backup child care providers can assist when regular child care or school arrangements are disrupted by school closings, vacations, spousal travel, or provider illness, or when a child is mildly ill.  Backup care can also help cover work hours when care is not normally available, for example, to allow you to attend MIT events, student government meetings or conferences, or to study for exams.  Care.com Backup Care, provided by Parents in a Pinch can usually locate a caregiver within a few hours, but the more advance notice, the more likely they can make a successful match.  Twenty-four hours is usually sufficient.

How to Register for Backup Child Care

Step 1: Complete MIT's Student Status Verification Form.  You must complete MIT’s Student Status Verification Form online each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30), so that MIT can verify your student eligibility for this service.

  • Students currently registered for summer term courses can complete MIT’s Student Status Verification Form online beginning on July 1, for FY15 backup child care.
  • Students not currently registered for summer term courses can complete MIT’s Student Status Verification Form online as soon as they have registered for fall or spring term courses (whichever comes first), for FY15 backup child care.

To use the back-up child care program, you must be currently registered for courses.  If you receive an error message while trying to complete MIT’s Student Status Verification Form, please reference our troubleshooting page for help.

Step 2: Register with Care.com Backup Care.  You must register with Care.com Backup Care, provided by Parents in a Pinch, each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).

To register online:

  • Visit www.care.com/backupcare.
  • Click on the “companies” tab.
  • Click on “New client registration.”
  • Complete all pages of the New Client Registration Form.

To register by phone:

  • Call Care.com at 1-855-781-1303, extension 1.

How to Request Backup Child Care from Care.com

Once you have completed MIT’s Student Status Verification Form and registered with Care.com Backup Care, you can call Care.com at 1-855-781-1303, extension 1 to request backup child care. Their call-in hours are:

  • Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST
  • Friday from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST
  • Sunday evening, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. EST (for care needed the following day.) 

Note: Each new fiscal year (July 1  June 30) you must call Care.com (1-855-781-1303, extension 1) for the first instance in which you need backup child care. You may then use the online portal to request subsequent backup child care.

When you call Care.com to request backup child care:

  • Identify yourself as an MIT student.
  • Care.com will: identify a caregiver who meets your specific needs, call to tell you about your caregiver, and will email you the caregiver profile. The caregiver will also call you to confirm the details of the child care appointment.
  • At the end of the child care service, you will need to sign the provided timesheet, and your credit card will be charged for your co-pay for the hours of care ($5 per hour, 4 hour minimum and 8 hour maximum).

For additional information about this program, please see the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF), Screening of Child Care Providers (PDF), and Tips for Working with a Temporary Caregiver (PDF).  For additional assistance, contact the Work-Life Center at 617-253-1592 or worklife@mit.edu.


Example Backup Child Care Scenarios

Backup Child Care Scenario 1:

  • Anna is going on a job interview in a couple days, and requires child care for her two children for a 2-hour period.
  • She has not yet:
    • Completed MIT’s Student Status Verification Form, or
    • Registered with Care.com Backup Care.

Action Steps:

  • Anna follows the proper steps by:
    1. Completing MIT’s Student Status Verification Form online (so that MIT can verify her student eligibility for this service) and,
    2. Registering with Care.com Backup Care.
  • Since Anna hasn’t used the service yet this fiscal year, she calls Care.com (1-855-781-1303, extension 1) to request 4 hours of care on the day of her interview (minimum number of hours for care is 4).
  • Care.com calls Anna back and informs her about her caregiver.
  • The caregiver calls Anna to confirm the details of the child care appointment.
  • At the time agreed on, the child care provider arrives at Anna’s house and watches her 2 children for 4 hours.
  • At the end of the child care service, Anna signs the provided timesheet, and her credit card is charged for her co-pay for the hours of care.  The cost to Anna is $5 per hour * 4 hours = $20.
  • Anna now has 9 days of backup child care remaining before June 30 of this fiscal year.

Backup Child Care Scenario 2:

  • Eric is going to a conference in Atlanta for 2 days, and is bringing his child with him.
  • Eric needs 8 hours of child care on the first day, and 4 hours of child care on the second day of the conference.
  • Eric has already used 9 days of child care this fiscal year (since July 1).

Action Steps:

  • Since Eric has previously utilized 9 days of backup child care, his student status has been verified, and he is registered with Care.com.
  • Eric calls Care.com to arrange for two days of child care in Atlanta, at the hotel he is staying at for the conference.
  • One day of child care at the conference is subsidized through MIT’s student backup child care program ($5 per hour).  This first day of child care at the conference uses up his 10th day of subsidized backup child care for the fiscal year.  Therefore, the second day of conference child care is unsubsidized. (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.)
  • The total cost to Eric is $164 for the two days of backup child care:
    • Day 1 (subsidized): $5 per hour * 8 hours = $40.
    • Day 2 (unsubsidized): $18.50 per hour * 4 hours = $74 for the caregiver, plus the daily agency fee of $50, for a total of $124.

Backup Childcare Scenario 3:

  • Jennifer’s nanny is sick and notifies Jennifer at 7:30 a.m. that due to illness, she cannot provide her regular child care to Jennifer’s son.
  • Jennifer still needs to go to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and needs backup child care for her 2 children.
  • Jennifer has already used 1 day of subsidized child care this fiscal year, and has 9 days of subsidized child care left.

Action Steps:

  • Jennifer calls Care.com at 7:30 a.m.to arrange for a day of child care.
  • She is reminded that they generally require at least 24 hours of notice in order to provide child care during the requested time, and the earliest they can send a child care provider is 11 a.m.
  • Jennifer requests child care from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day.
  • Jennifer calls her neighbor, Marzyeh, and asks her to watch her children until the Care.com backup child care provider arrives.
  • Jennifer calls her office to say she will be a little late, leaves her children with her neighbor, Marzyeh, and departs for work.
  • Marzyeh watches the children until the child care provider arrives at Jennifer's house at 11 a.m.
  • At the end of the child care service, Jennifer signs the provided timesheet, and her credit card is charged for her co-pay for the hours of care.  The cost to Jennifer is $5 per hour * 7 hours = $35.
  • She also buys a coffee for her neighbor to thank her.