Resources for the student families in MIT's community abound, including organizations such as spouses&partners, the Graduate Student Council Housing and Community Affairs Families Subcommittee, the Work-Life Center and its Work-Life Resources 24/7 program; policies such as childbirth accommodation (paid maternity leave) through the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE); and funding for new initiatives through the ODGE Graduate Student Life Grants.
Nonetheless, finding affordable childcare continues to be an ongoing challenge for all members of the MIT community, and students are no exception. After spending considerable time and effort finding the most suitable care solution, many students find that gaps in the overall childcare picture still exist. What if the child is mildly sick, and unable to go to care for the day? What if the student has an evening commitment with no other coverage?
Backup childcare options exist, but arrangements are difficult to make on short notice and often prohibitively expensive for a student budget. The need for more affordable backup care to serve as a safety net has been identified as one of the most pressing issues for student families. The MIT Work Life-Center and the Graduate Student Council have come together with the Office of the Provost and with the support of the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education and the Office of the Chancellor to frame a new one-year pilot program to offer affordable quality, subsidized backup child care to students.
The new pilot program will provide access to screened, trained caregivers from Parents in a Pinch, Inc. at a subsidized cost of only $5 per hour during the 2013-2014 academic year. A nationwide service provider, Parents in a Pinch has worked with MIT since 2006 to provide quality in-home care for faculty, staff and postdocs. Caregivers are available on short notice to provide childcare, day or evening, seven days a week. In addition to local service, a parent may take her or his child halfway across the country, and arrange for care coverage while at a conference or other commitment.
The pilot will run from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, and MIT students can use the service at the subsidized rate up to 10 times annually, for a minimum of four and a maximum of eight hours each time. In order to take advantage of the program, students must pre-register online (available starting June 26, 2013). After that, the student simply calls Parents in a Pinch to relay his or her specific need; a caregiver that matches the need will call to confirm the details of the job. At the end of the specified time period, the parent signs a time sheet, and his or her credit card is charged for the co-payment.
The many proponents of this program sincerely hope that MIT students will take full advantage of the benefits, as this first year of usage will provide valuable data to student leaders and administrators on whether and how to continue the program. For questions about using the new program, feel free to contact the MIT Work-Life Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. To offer your comments on the pilot concept, please contact the GSC Family Subcommittee at email@example.com.