Backup Child Care for Students

MIT is pleased to introduce a new, one-year pilot program of subsidized backup childcare for MIT undergraduate and graduate students. The pilot program will run from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, as part of an effort to explore and evaluate options to increase support to student families.

This program is co-sponsored by the Graduate Student Council (GSC), MIT Work-Life Center, and Office of the Provost, and supported by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education and Office of the Chancellor. For more information, please contact the GSC Family Subcommittee at

How it Works

As of July 1, subsidized backup childcare is available to all MIT undergraduate and graduate students through 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 childcare services, to MIT faculty, staff and postdocs since 2006 and is now is co-sponsoring a one-year pilot program with the GSC to offer this subsidized program to students.

The program creates a safety net for students with families, by providing access to quality caregivers when additional childcare is needed.  Screened and trained caregivers are available on short notice to provide childcare, day or evening, 7 days a week.  MIT students can request up to 10 childcare referrals annually, for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 8 hours daily.

When to Use Backup care

Backup childcare providers can assist when normal childcare 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. 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

Step 1: You must pre-register with MIT, so that MIT can verify your eligibility for this service.

Please complete the pre-registration form online, or call the Work-Life Center at 617-253-1592 for additional assistance.

To use the back-up care program, you must be a currently enrolled student. If you receive an error message while trying to pre-register on-line, please reference our troubleshooting page for help.

Step 2: You must register with Parents in a Pinch (either now or when you call to set up care).  

Please complete the registration form online at or call Parents in a Pinch at 1-855-781-1303, extension 1.  For online registration, click on Register for Your Corporate Benefit on the top right of the Parents in a Pinch homepage. Complete all pages of the Client Registration Form.

How to set up care

Once you have pre-registered, call Parents in a Pinch at 1-855-781-1303, extension 1, Monday through Thursday from 7 am – 8 pm:, Friday from 7 am – 5pm; and Sunday evening from 5 pm – 8 pm (for care needed the following day.) You may also request care online at

  • Identify yourself as an MIT student.
  • Parents in a Pinch will identify a caregiver who meets your specific needs, and will call you to tell you about your caregiver.  The caregiver will also call you to confirm the details of the job. 
  • At the end of the day, you will sign a timesheet, and your credit card will be charged for your co-pay for the hours of care ($5 per hour).

For additional information about this program, please see the Frequently Asked Questions (PDF), Screening of Childcare Providers (PDF), and Tips for Working with a Temporary Caregiver (PDF). For additional assistance, call the MIT Work-Life Center at 617-253-1592.

Example Scenarios

Example 1:

  • Anna is going to a job interview in a couple days, and requires childcare for a 2 hour period.
  • She has not yet registered for the service.
Answer 1:
  • Anna follows the proper steps to pre-register for Parents in a Pinch.
  • Because Anna hasn’t used the service yet, she still has all 10 days remaining.
  • The minimum number of hours for care is 4, so Anna requests 4 hours of care on the day of her interview.
  • At the time agreed on, the childcare provider arrives at Anna’s house and watches her three children for 4 hours.
  • The cost to Anna is $5/hour * 4 hours = $20.
  • Anna now has 9 days remaining before June 30, 2014.

Example 2:

  • Emily is going on a conference in Atlanta for 2 days, and is bringing her child with her.
  • Emily would like 8 hours of childcare on the first day, and 4 hours on the second.
  • Emily has already used 9 days of childcare this year (since July 1, 2013).
Answer 2:
  • Emily calls Parents in a Pinch to arrange for two days of childcare in Atlanta, at her hotel.
  • The first day is within Emily's 10 allotted discount days from MIT, but the second day is not. (Note that Parents in a Pinch will track your balance and alert you when it is low.)
  • The total cost to Emily is $164 for the two days:
    • Day 1 (subsidized): $5/hour * 8 hours = $40
    • Day 2 (unsubsidized): $18.50/hour * 4 hours = $74 for the caregiver, plus the daily agency fee of $50, for a total of $124.

Example 3:

  • Eric’s nanny is sick and notifies Eric at 7:30 am that she cannot make it.
  • Eric still needs to go to work from 8 am to 5 pm, and needs childcare for his 2 children.
  • Eric has already used 1 day of childcare this year.
Answer 3:
  • Eric calls Parents in a Pinch to arrange for a day of childcare.
  • He is reminded that they generally require at least 24 hours of notice in order to make the time requested. The soonest they can send in a provider is 11 am.
  • Eric asks for childcare from 11 am to 6 pm that day.
  • Eric calls his neighbor, Marzyeh, and asks her to watch the children until the childcare provider arrives.
  • Eric calls his office to say he will be a little late, and leaves for work.
  • Marzyeh watches the children until the childcare provider arrives at Eric's house at 11 am.
  • The cost to Eric is $5/hour * 7 hours = $35.
  • He also buys a coffee for his neighbor to thank her.
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