Columbia Reminds Affiliates About Resources for Parents

November 19, 2020

Colleagues:

As the infection rate for SARS-CoV-2 continues to increase, some school systems—including the NYC public schools—have temporarily suspended onsite classes and moved to 100% remote learning. Others may soon do the same.

There are no easy answers or perfect solutions; however, we want to remind you of a number of resources that Columbia University has available for faculty and staff as you juggle your family and work responsibilities in this challenging and ever-changing landscape: 

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 available. While this benefit is normally 150 hours, Columbia added Fifty (50) additional hours for use through June 30, 2021.Bright Horizons has a network of providers available to serve employees.  Click 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 safety 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 on Barnard Student Employment
  • Other Organizations: These tutoring services 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.

Also, please visit the Office of Work Life web site: https://worklife.columbia.edu/ which has many other resources and the Employee Assistance Program web site: https://humanresources.columbia.edu/employee-assistance

Sincerely,

Daniel Driscoll

Vice President, Human Resources, Columbia University