BENEFITS

JHU unveils new support for child care

Scholarships can help cut costs significantly for eligible full-time employees and postgraduate students

Lively preschoolers interacting with their teacher

Image caption: By combining a child care scholarship and a voucher, a family at the lowest income level, for example, could potentially slash child care costs by up to $18,000 a year.

Image credit: GETTY IMAGES

For Quinn Porter, a typical workday starts with parking his truck by his daughter's day care, dropping her off, then strolling a block to his job at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"I say goodbye to her, then I just walk up the street to work," says Porter, a maintenance mechanic.

This convenient arrangement wouldn't have been possible if not for a new benefit from Johns Hopkins—a child care scholarship that made the child care center affordable for Porter's family.

The new offering, which debuted in January, can help cut child care costs significantly for eligible full-time employees and postgraduate students of Johns Hopkins University. For families enrolled at one of three Hopkins partner child care centers—the Johns Hopkins Child Care and Early Learning Center (Bright Horizons), Weinberg Early Childhood Center, and Homewood Early Learning Center—scholarships of between $7,000 and $13,000 are available based on income levels.

"It would be impossible for my daughter to go to this day care without that," Porter says.

"We've made it a top priority to improve access for all employees to our three child care programs, regardless of income."
Jeanne Lovy
Director of family support services

Another Johns Hopkins employee, Essence Pierce, says that the scholarship has allowed her to switch her son from an at-home day care to a more structured, learning-oriented environment closer to her work. Pierce, a wellness specialist in JHU's Office of Benefits & Worklife, says that she's found "a real sense of community" with an engaged group of teachers and parents at the child care center.

Of the scholarship, she says, "Parents need affordability, but they shouldn't have to sacrifice quality of care for it."

That's exactly why Johns Hopkins started offering this benefit, according to Jeanne Lovy, director of family support services in Benefits & Work Life.

"Securing and affording quality child care can be an enormous challenge for many of our employees, and these scholarships can help ease the burden," Lovy says. "We've made it a top priority to improve access for all employees to our three child care programs, regardless of income."

The child care scholarships are available on a rolling basis for full-time employees of the university, postdoctoral students, full-time doctoral students, residents, and house staff. (For full details, visit the HR website.)

In addition, Johns Hopkins recently expanded its child care voucher program, adjusting qualifying income levels so that more families can benefit. Depending on family income, the vouchers can provide $5,000, $2,500, or $1,000 per year toward qualifying child care—which now, for the first time, can include legal in-home care.

Jeanne Lovy at the Homewood Early Learning Center

Image caption: Jeanne Lovy at the Homewood Early Learning Center

Image credit: JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY FILE PHOTO

When vouchers are combined with scholarships—yes, that's allowed—the savings can be substantial. A family at the lowest income level, for example, could potentially slash child care costs by up to $18,000 per year.

Parents can apply for the vouchers during the annual benefits enrollment period, or when a qualifying life event (including birth, adoption, or marriage) arises.

For those interested in a Hopkins partner child care center, the next step should be signing up as soon as possible; demand is high for these centers, and it can take months for a spot to open up. Once a family is enrolled at a center, the scholarships become available for those who qualify.

For those choosing child care in the community, Hopkins can provide other support services for families, including referrals to quality options via the Maryland Family Network and mySupport.

Maryland parents may be eligible for additional financial support through the Maryland Child Care Subsidy Program.

Also, Hopkins parents are eligible for up to 10 days per year of subsidized backup child or elder care services provided by Care@Work by Care.com.

Heidi Conway, VP for human resources, notes: "It's our goal to continue to offer support to families so that they can best balance the responsibilities of work, study, and parenting, and the early feedback on the new scholarship has been terrific. We're so pleased."

For more information about resources available to JHU employees, visit the Family Programs page of the HR website.