Backup Child Care for Students

Backup Child Care for Students

MIT is pleased to offer a program of subsidized backup childcare for MIT 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 MIT graduate students—through Care.com Backup Care—at a cost of $5.00 per hour.  

The backup child care 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 a maximum of 10 days of backup child care each academic year (July 1 - June 30), for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 8 hours daily.  Unused days of care will not carry forward into the new academic year.  Students will begin each academic 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 care provider illness, or when a child is mildly ill.  Backup child 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 can usually locate a caregiver on short notice, but the more advance notice (especially around school vacations and holidays), the more likely they can make a successful match. 

How to Request Backup Child Care (Updated 9/1/16)

Step 1: Visit mitstudents.care.com and complete the enrollment form. All students will need to re-enroll on Care.com's new customized student portal.

Step 2: Request backup child care online or by telephone.

To request backup child care online:

  • 1. Select "I want to find care for my kids"
  • 2. Select "I need backup care"
  • 3. Click "book online" and submit your family information and request for backup child care.

After your request is placed, Care.com will begin to work on identifying a caregiver who meets your specific needs, and will call to tell you about your caregiver. The caregiver will also call you to confirm the details of the child care appointment.

To request backup child care by telephone: Call 855-781-1303, extension 2.

Care.com call-in hours are:

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

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

  • Identify yourself as an MIT student.
  • Care.com will: work to 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.
  • You are responsible for paying the hourly cost of the child caregiver, which is currently $5.00 per hour (with a minimum of four hours per day).
  • At the end of the child care service, you will need to sign the provided timesheet, and your credit card will be charged for the hours of care provided.

For additional information, please review 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.
  • She has not yet enrolled with Care.com.

Action Steps:

  • Anna visits mitstudents.care.com and completes the Care.com enrollment form.
  • Anna calls Care.com (1-855-781-1303, extension 2) 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 provides child care for 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 $5.00 per hour x 4 hours of care = $20.00.
  • Anna now has 9 days of backup child care remaining before June 30 of this academic 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)
  • Eric has already re-enrolled on Care.com's new student portal (launched on September 1, 2016).

Action Steps:

  • 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): $5.00 per hour x 8 hours of care = $40.00.
    • Day 2 (unsubsidized): $18.50 per hour x 4 hours of care = $74.00 for the caregiver, plus the daily agency fee of $50.00, for a total of $124.00.

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 backup 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, Sarah, and asks her to watch her children until the Care.com backup child care provider arrives.
  • Sarah 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 $5.00 per hour x 7 hours of care = $35.00.