What is the Dependent Care Fund?
The Dependent Care Fund (DCF) provides funding to help with caregiving costs during short-term professional travel for Harvard ladder faculty.
Faculty who would like to travel for a professional event that will advance their academic careers and who also have caregiving obligations for children or adult dependents can apply. Faculty may apply for one grant per academic year (July through June), with a maximum of $1000 per academic year.
The DCF can help cover expenses like transporting a dependent to a research site, bringing a caregiver or dependent to a conference, securing extra dependent care at home while the recipient is traveling, or covering on-site care at a meeting. Grants can be used to cover dependent care costs for more than one lot of professional travel per academic year up to the maximum.
Examples of Dependent Care Fund Assistance
Example 1: An assistant professor has children who ordinarily attend the Peabody Terrace Children’s Center. The assistant professor plans to attend a 2-day conference in Chicago in order to present the results of his research. Because the conference requires overnight travel, the assistant professor must bring his children with him. Conference organizers have arranged for on-site child care while scholars make their presentations. In this case, the assistant professor could apply to the Dependent Care Fund to cover the airfare for his children as well as the cost of the on-site child care at the conference.
- Example 2: The situation is the same, except that the children are ordinarily cared for by a live-out nanny who comes to their home in Somerville. The conference organizers have not made arrangements for on-site care, so the assistant professor plans to bring along their nanny to take care of the children while she attends the conference. The daily cost for the nanny ordinarily amounts to approximately $200/day, but given that the conference requires care away from home, the cost for the nanny may increase to $250/day. The assistant professor could apply to the DCF to cover the airfare for her children and the nanny, and she could also request funds for the extra $50/day for the nanny to provide off-site care.
To meet the following eligibility criteria to apply for a DCF grant, you must work in a benefits-eligible position. This means you must be:
- working at least half-time (usually 17.5 hours-per-week) at Harvard, and
- on a regular Harvard payroll (paid by the President and Fellows of Harvard College).
AND be employed in one of the following capacities:
|HMS Professor||(000021, 000031)|
|Associate Professor||(000152, 000192)|
|Assistant Professor||(000202, 000263)|
|Professor in Practice, GSD||(000034, 000035)|
|Associate Professor in Practice, GSD||(000036)|
|Assistant Professor in Practice, GSD||(000037)|
*If you are unsure of your job code, please contact the Office of Work/Life Resources or your school's faculty affairs office.*
Among Harvard Medical and Dental School Faculty, only those based in the Quad's basic and social science departments and on a tenure clock are eligible. Faculty based in the Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospitals and research centers are not eligible.
Any awarded funds and the event itself must occur during the Harvard faculty member’s active appointment in an eligible rank.
Special Instructions for FAS Faculty
Tenure-track FAS faculty are additionally eligible for awards from the FAS Dependent Care Fund and should apply first to the FAS fund by contacting the relevant Assistant Dean in their division (Arts & Humanities, Social Science, Science, and SEAS). The FAS DCF also has a $1,000 funding cap per scholar, per academic year. Please note that the FAS fund accepts rolling applications throughout the year. Check out the FAS Resources for Faculty & Researchers website for more information.
Logistics and Use
Faculty may apply for one grant within a given academic year, up to a maximum of $1,000 in funding per academic year. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Requests should be submitted via the online form. Applications will be reviewed and provisional awards will be made on a rolling basis within 3 weeks of request date. Grant recipients must submit receipts for the DCF-funded expenses upon their return from the event.
Reimbursement payments are made through the regular payroll system and are considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service. Additional required tax withholdings will be covered by the University so that the faculty member can receive the full value of the award reimbursement.
DCF awards may be used in conjunction with existing benefits offered through other work/life programs, such as Care.com BackupCare, which can provide qualified caregivers in many American cities (pre-registration is required). The DCF is intended to assist all ladder faculty. Please note that for HMS/HSDM, only Quad-based faculty who are employed directly by Harvard University are eligible. Any awarded funds and the event itself must occur during the Harvard faculty member’s active appointment in an eligible rank.
Please email receipts to:
The Dependent Care Travel Fund is a reimbursement program – you will only be reimbursed up to your award amount OR your total costs if these are less than your award. The maximum award is $1,000 in any academic year.
Once you have submitted your receipts to the Office of Work/Life for review, a paper check will be sent to your home. Program reimbursement payments are considered additional compensation. This addition to your regular wages will be taxed at a higher percentage and represents amounts withheld for federal income taxes, FICA and FICA-HI, and Massachusetts state income taxes.
However, reimbursements from the Dependent Care Fund only will be “grossed up” to cover the expected supplemental tax withholding. Please see the following generalized examples:
Your award is $1,000 and you submit dependent and/or care-giver airline receipts for $1,500 to the Office of Work/Life. It is approved and a payment of $1,000 is sent to payroll for processing. Your reimbursement check will be for approximately $1,000 since for DCF payments only, the required supplemental tax withholding on the payment is covered.
Your award is $1,000 and you submit additional dependent child care receipts for $500 to the Office of Work/Life. It is approved and a payment of $500 is sent to payroll for processing. Your reimbursement check will be for approximately $500, since for DCF payments only, the required supplemental tax withholding on the payment is covered. The remaining $500 can be held over for a different professional travel event in the same academic year (July 1 through June 30). A new application should be submitted.