Exploring your child care options

When searching for child care for her daughter, Yamese Diggs came across a promising option near her work on the Homewood campus: the Y Preschool at Weinberg. Initially, though, she was told her prospects of enrolling her child were low because of an overflowing wait list.

That changed when Diggs told them she worked for Johns Hopkins. The Weinberg preschool provides priority placement for children of full-time Hopkins employees, so Diggs, who works in the Whiting School of Engineering's Center for Language and Speech Processing, was able to secure a space for her then 2-year-old daughter. Three years later, Diggs says she remains satisfied with her choice, which has allowed her daughter year-round care through different phases of her development and access to all of the Y's amenities, including the pool for swim lessons.

The Y Preschool at Weinberg is one of six child care centers with which Hopkins partners to provide options for employees. One, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Early Childhood Center], is operated by Hopkins itself. Additionally, there's an international playgroup co-op in Charles Village, Children of the World, which is available to Hopkins employees. A comprehensive brochure provides further details and contact information on each of these facilities.

The Office of Work, Life and Engagement helps employees investigate all their options, including possibilities for parents who may live outside the Baltimore metro area.

Essence Pierce oversees the various resources and is available to work one-on-one with employees. "I'm happy to direct them to resources and connect them to our child care partners, who will assist in supporting their child care needs," says Pierce, who is WorkLife programs coordinator.

A Hopkins partnership with the Maryland Family Network provides enhanced services for employees who need child care referrals. The network's Locate: Child Care program gives users access to a free database of all registered child care providers and licensed group programs in Maryland, including private nursery schools, public pre-K programs, and summer options. The enhanced services for Johns Hopkins employees provide information about current openings based on individual counseling and assessment of child care needs to help determine the best match. Locate is also able to search for child care openings for employees who live in D.C. and Northern Virginia.

Patrick Trujillo, an academic adviser for the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, learned of Locate through one of the biannual "baby shower" events that the Office of Work, Life and Engagement hosts for new or expectant parents. Through Locate, he and his wife worked with a counselor to find an option that suited their specific need—weekday care for their newborn daughter near their home in Barclay. They ended up with a small-group daycare provider who operates out of her home, less than a mile from the Trujillos' own house.

"You really need to do your own homework to find the best child care option for your little one," Trujillo says, "but this service helps narrow down viable providers that are state-certified." He adds that it was a "great way to let someone else do the 'legwork' of checking which licensed/regulated providers had openings within a targeted geographic area … that fit your given requirements."

For those who want child care in their own home—either for a long-term arrangement or for short-term babysitting—the WorkLife Office can also point families in the right direction, listing a variety of placement agencies that provide such services, including Care.com. Another agency, the Nanny Network, offers discounts to Hopkins employees. The Locate service also can provide guidance on searching for in-home care.

And for unexpected situations when you need temporary help—for example, if your regular child care provider becomes ill—there's backup care available through Care.com. For Hopkins employees who are eligible, this service provides up to 10 subsidized days of care per year.

With all child care options, finances are always a big factor to consider. Employees have a number of options to explore in that regard:

  • A dependent care flexible spending account allows employees to deduct up to $5,000 tax-free dollars from their pay to cover expenses related to dependent care for kids under 13. Employees should contact their benefits office to learn more. For the university, it's 410-516-2000 or benefits@jhu.edu, and for the hospital and health system, it's 443-997-5400 or hrbenefit@jhmi.edu.
  • The Dependent Care Voucher Program allows eligible faculty and staff at the university up to $5,000 per calendar year to help with dependent care. Visit the website or call 443-997-7000 for details.
  • The Bright Horizons Scholarship Program is available to eligible families using the Johns Hopkins Early Learning Center whose taxable income is less than $50,000. Visit the child care centers website for the scholarship application.

Looking for more information on child care? Browse through the Office of Work, Life and Engagement's brochure, visit its website detailing child care solutions, or contact the office at 443-997-7000 or worklife@jhu.edu.

Additionally, you can sign up for regular emails from the office for updates on upcoming workshops and events that address the needs of Johns Hopkins families with young children.

Posted in Benefits+Perks