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New Family-Friendly Options for Faculty, Staff and Students
February 9, 2010, Volume 56, No. 21


Caring Center

The University of Pennsylvania has expanded child-care options and inaugurated a new backup-care initiative (Almanac December 8, 2009).

To increase access to child care for Penn employees and community members, the University is partnering with two West Philadelphia child care providers, the Parent Infant Center and The Caring Center. Both are accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

This partnership will provide space for 100 additional children to receive quality day care close to Penn’s campus. Fifty of these spaces are reserved for Penn faculty and staff members. 

“Penn has a rich history of partnering with community-based providers and this effort builds on that tradition,” said Marie Witt, vice president of business services, which manages the on-campus Penn Children’s Center. “This new collaboration supports Penn’s already strong commitment to helping provide high-quality care for both Penn families and the community. Together with the expansion of the Penn Children’s Center, we have been able to assist an additional 150 children and their families.”

The University is also addressing the need for last-minute care for dependents of any age through an in-home backup-care program available through a partnership with Parents-in-a-Pinch. If Penn faculty and staff have an unexpected interruption in their regular dependent-care routine and need to get to work, they can access expert child and adult caregivers to provide short-notice, temporary-care services. Penn is also providing a subsidy to help make these services more affordable.

“Balancing work and home responsibilities is never easy,” said Jack Heuer, vice president for human resources, “but when you have an emergency or your regular care option isn’t available that balance is even more difficult. What if you have an important meeting and your child’s day care center closes down because the heat doesn’t work? Or your elderly mother slips on the ice and can’t be left alone? Backup care provides a safety net that lets you keep up with both your professional and personal responsibilities.”

These new programs are part of a multi-phased, multi-year plan by Penn to expand its family-friendly agenda. The effort, begun in 2006, includes: 

• The expansion of the Penn’s Children Center, a NAEYC-accredited center that provides care for the children of faculty, staff, students and the community, ages three months to five years. In 2007, five classrooms were added, increasing the center’s capacity by 45 percent. The center also hired additional staff and expanded its hours of operation to accommodate the needs of an academic environment.

• A new adoption benefit, effective as of July 2009, which allows eligible faculty and staff to be reimbursed for as much as $5,000 of qualified adoption expenses (Almanac April 21, 2009). 

• An increase in the family-earning threshold for fee assistance for the Penn Children’s Center.  Effective as of September 2009, the threshold increase makes lower child-care rates available to more University faculty and staff, subject to eligibility and the availability of funds.

“Penn has always been committed to supporting the work-life balance efforts of its employees,” Craig Carnaroli, executive vice president, said. “These new options build on an already robust set of programs, including Flexible Work Option Guidelines, Dependent Care Resource and Referral Services, a series of New Child Benefits, School Closure Guidance, Snow Day Child Care, Worklife Resources and Summer Programs for Kids.”

Additional information about Penn’s family-friendly initiatives is available online at www.hr.upenn.edu/Quality/WorkLife/Default.aspx.


Almanac - February 9, 2010, Volume 56, No. 21