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Stanford and the WorkLife Office expand child care support

Despite recent challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanford and the WorkLife Office remain sensitive to the rising cost of living in the Bay Area and are committed to providing Stanford families with support for high-quality child care.

Quality early child care allows families to flourish and lays the foundation for children’s lifelong success. Stanford’s child care and early education programs have a rich history of providing excellent learning and development opportunities for children. The university’s approach to operating its child care programs has supported thousands of families and children for many decades, recognizing there have been many challenges along the way. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bay Area families had already experienced the effects of rising child care costs and reduced availability of care. The reduced availability of care has been an ongoing challenge for many communities, partially due to the national shortage of child care teachers.  Addressing these challenges has been a focus for the university and the Child Care Work Group (CCWG), a committee formed in 2018 of faculty, staff, student and postdoc community members, many with children currently or previously enrolled in Stanford’s on-site child care. The CCWG extensively analyzed how Stanford’s on-site centers serve the needs of families on campus, studied local and national child care market conditions, benchmarked peer institutions’ and Bay Area employer’s efforts, and came to understand the interplay between quality, cost, availability and sustainability of child care programs. The CCWG used their findings to provide recommendations to the Affordability Task Force to drive supportive child care initiatives in response to affordability challenges. Working together, Stanford and the WorkLife Office implemented the recommendations suggested by the CCWG to expand child care resources, introduce new initiatives and help more Stanford families gain financial assistance for child care.

Financial support programs for on-site child care

Several new programs have been implemented to maintain the quality of care and reduce the costs for families enrolled in on-site child care programs.

For students and postdocs:
These new programs provide financial support to reduce the cost of tuition for enrolled families in on-site child care.

  • New as of September 1, 2021, the Tuition Reduction Program offers a five percent reduction in child care tuition for each child enrolled in Stanford’s on-site child care.
  • Also introduced in September 2021, the Tuition Assistance Program offers income-eligible families additional tuition assistance. 

For all university affiliates:
This new funding reduces the application fees for all six on-site child care centers to one-third of the previous cost.

  • On September 1, 2021, the university designated ongoing funding to reduce on-site child care application fees from $50 to $15 per child, per center. This subsidy provides a significant reduction in application fees for families, while also allowing our child care operators to meet their business needs. 

For on-site child care operators:
Stanford provides its child care operators with substantial subsidies to deliver high-quality care for children and keep child care tuition at or below the market rate average for families. 

  • To address the existing child care teacher shortage already experienced prior to COVID-19, in September, Stanford began subsidizing utility costs for operators, so that parent tuition can be directly applied to the quality of care and teacher compensation. The reimbursement of these utility costs represents about six percent of the operators’ expenses.
  • Since 2020, Stanford has provided child care operators with several million dollars in financial support to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on child care. 
  • Stanford continues to provide rent-free facilities to child care operators. 

Financial support programs for on- and off-site child care

Several new programs were implemented and existing programs were expanded to reduce the cost of child care in a variety of settings (e.g. on-site, off-site, in-home care), allowing for parental choice in the type of care received. 

For postdocs:
Two new programs were introduced to provide access to funds to offset living and child care expenses.

  • In March 2021, Stanford rolled out the Child Care Assistance Grant (CCAG), providing postdocs with up to $5,000 per year to assist with child care expenses. 
  • In addition to the Child Care Assistance Grant program, Stanford introduced the Postdoc Family Grant Program in 2021, offering up to $5,000 per year for living expenses that span beyond child care.

For students:
The need for child care financial support led to an ongoing grant program for student families. 

  • The Graduate Student Family Grant Program was expanded from a pilot program to an ongoing program, providing graduate families with up to $15,000 per year to support child-related expenses.

For benefits-eligible staff and faculty:
Existing programs were expanded to allow for greater support for child care.

  • Introduced during summer 2021, the Child Care Subsidy Grant (CCSG) program) total award amount increased from $5k to $10k, and eligibility expanded to promote greater family participation.   
  • In 2021, Emergency Back-up Care support (used for elder or child care) increased from five to ten days per calendar year in response to participants’ full use of this benefit in 2020.   

For benefits-eligible faculty:
More faculty became eligible for financial assistance through expanded program criteria.  

Many of the efforts highlighted were already in progress when COVID-19 arrived in March 2020. While the pandemic brought many challenges, it also underscored the essentiality of child care for families, children and the well-being of our community. The new and expanded programs introduced during the pandemic provide additional financial support with the intent to increase the utilization of Stanford’s child care services. Stanford will continue to evaluate evolving child care-related challenges and community needs, and fostering a resourceful and supportive child care system will remain a continual focus.