Columbia HR Releases a List of Resources for Parents

The University's Department of Human Resources is highlighting programs—some new and some already existing at Columbia—that may provide some options to better meet the challenges parents face this fall.

September 30, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

As the first month of the school year comes to an end, we understand that many of our Columbia colleagues who are also parents may be feeling weary. After meeting the challenges brought by the spring and summer, parents are now facing a fall that is equally, if not more, challenging. Some schools have gone fully remote, at least for the first few months, while others have embraced blended learning. Parents are facing difficult choices this year, and many are struggling to manage the increased support they must provide to children at home with their own daily work responsibilities.

There are no easy answers or perfect solutions; however, Columbia has curated a list of programs—some new and some already existing at the University—that we hope may provide you some options to better meet the challenges of the school year ahead.

Flexibility and understanding are more important than ever. We ask each of you to be realistic about the expectations for your team, your colleagues, and yourself. The University has programs that can help support you whether you need to find alternative child care options, a tutor to help with your child’s schoolwork, or even time away from work.

Working at home (no matter your role) while remote schooling children—or needing to be at work onsite while children are ‘going to school’ at home—is hard, but we are all learning and adapting. None of us anticipated juggling our dependents’ needs in this way for so long, and everyone’s challenges and solutions will be different.

What follows are brief descriptions of programs divided into three categories: 1) Ways to Find and Share Caregiving, 2) Tutoring, and 3) Financial Assistance.

Ways to Find and Share Caregiving:

  • Bright Horizons Back-Up Care: Eligible employees are now able to access 200 hours (250 hours for an infant’s first year) of back-up care per academic year for a small co-pay for use when their regular care is not availableWhile this benefit is normally 150 hours, Columbia has added Fifty (50) additional hours for use through June 30, 2021Click here for registration and reservation information.
  • Parent Connection: A new program developed by the Office of Work/Life that allows Columbia parents to connect with other Columbia parents who live in their neighborhood, go to the same school, or have children the same ages. Join Parent Connection and find colleagues with whom you might be able to share a caregiver or trade-off babysitting or remote learning supervision. Visit the Work/Life Website for more information.
  • Komae: A cooperative child care app that enables parents to identify and vet families with similar parenting styles and COVID-19 hygiene practices to build their pod for shared child care and education. This app is provided by an external vendor, but a Columbia-specific group has been established for Columbia parents working both at home and on-site. Click here for more information.
  • Bright Horizons’ SitterCity: Columbia employees have access to an enhanced free membership so that you can search for an onsite or virtual tutor to assist with remote learning or to help develop learning pods. They have also added access to a discounted nanny placement service. Click here for more information

Tutoring:

  • Bright Horizons: Discounts are available for three tutoring services: Varsity Tutors, Revolution Prep, and Marco Polo Learning. Click here for more information.
  • BarnardWorks: Post a tutoring or caregiver job with BarnardWorks. Barnard students (who are independent contractors) can then respond to your request. For more information see Barnard Student Employment
  • Other Organizations: A list of other tutoring services is available. These are not specifically endorsed or vetted by Columbia (please see disclaimer below) but can be accessed here using your UNI and password.

Financial Assistance:

  • Child Care Benefit: Eligible Officers, Non-Union Support Staff, Post-Doc Research Fellows and Local 100 employees who earn less than $130,000 per year can receive a $4,000 contribution from Columbia to a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA). Eligible employees who did not previously elect a DCFSA can add it due to COVID and receive a prorated Child Care Benefit; employees earning beyond the salary threshold can still add DCFSA and have pre-tax savings. Additional information can be found under Flexible Spending Accounts on the CUHR Website.

Additional Information:

  • NYC Department of Education Learning Bridges: Provides free child care options for a limited group of eligible children attending NYC DoE schools from 3-K through 8th grade on days when they are scheduled for remote learning. Details are available on the NYC Schools website.
  • Updates from Work/Life: Sign up for news from the Office of Work/Life.

Sincerely,

Daniel Driscoll

Vice President, Human Resources, Columbia University