How is your pandemic parenting going? "The Faculty Parent" series chronicles the highs and lows of juggling parenting, teaching, research, and writing in uncertain times.
With Mother’s Day just a few weeks away I thought it might be a good time to share my wish list for me (and for you). These are all services that are relatively common in some industries and are now increasingly available at institutions across the country. They help me imagine—and I invite you, fellow faculty parent, to imagine with me—what life could be like with….
On-campus drop-in childcare by appointment
A number of schools have made use of on- or near-campus spaces to provide daycare tailored to the erratic and varied schedules of university faculty, postdocs, students, and staff. Parents schedule care ahead of time as needed so that, while teaching or attending a meeting or a class for a few hours, they can be assured of engaging, and age-appropriate care for their children in a dedicated space just a few steps away from their office or classroom. Case Western utilizes space in their on-campus fitness center 8-5pm on weekdays for kids K-6th grade. Caregivers are background checked, and they are first aid, CPR and AED certified. The maximum ratio of caregivers to kids is an appealing 1 to 6. The cost? Just $4-10/hr on an income-based sliding scale! Northwestern has a similar service available at any one of three on-campus centers. Classes run late on many campuses, while most daycare centers do not, but for parents taking classes, the Dallas International School on the campus of The University of Texas at Dallas offers evening care for children ages 4-11 as late as 10pm at $6 per child, per evening.
When things go awry with your regular childcare (or adult or eldercare) arrangements as they are wont to do during a pandemic and also basically anytime, back-up care can help fill the gap. Log on to a website or app, or make a phone call, and within an hour or two you have a qualified sitter or care specialist on hand to help make the day work like it was supposed to work before things went haywire. Many schools now offer benefits through national companies like Bright Horizons or Care.com (e.g., Indiana University, University of Florida College of Medicine), or through smaller local networks (e.g., Michigan State, University of Wisconsin) providing subsidized back-up care for up to 10 days each year either in your home or at a care center. Some even provide referrals for caregivers specializing in care for a sick child. University of California at Irvine offers back-up care through Bright Horizons at $6/hour for up to three children in your own home provided by a networked caregiver, or $15/day per child at a care center. UC-San Diego, which offers a similar program, recently added the option to hire someone from your own personal network (like an extended family member or neighborhood sitter) and be reimbursed $100/day for the cost.
Adult and eldercare support
No matter your current needs, you may also be thinking (or worrying) about adult and eldercare support services (for things like in-home care, independent/assisted-living, memory, or hospice care) whether your loved ones are living with you, near you, in other state, or even another country. George Mason’s Office of Life/Work offers this kind of consultation and even runs a regular adult caregivers support group. Michigan State’s Work Life Office offers a similar personalized planning service, and Indiana University offers consultations and maintains an email list for adult caregivers.
And speaking of email lists . . .Have you joined the Rutgers Newark Faculty Parents email list? Faculty are invited to join any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask questions, share resources, swap stories, or post your own wish list.
I’ll stop my wish list here. I won’t go on to talk about my longing for tutoring programs staffed by our own amazing students, or about portable discounts to be used at any daycare center or summer camp, or tuition remission at any school anywhere, or free premium memberships to caregiver databases like Care.com, Sittercity, or Urbansitter. I won’t fantasize here about my other wishes like a beach vacation that requires no travel, a somehow-silent bounce house that inflates or deflates in 30 seconds or less in my basement, an infinity pool for just one (me!), and a dream I call “sleep week,” in which I sleep as much as I want for week. All these and more I’ll save for next Mother’s Day!
Patricia Akhimie is a 2020-2021 Chancellor’s Scholar-in-Residence with the P3 Collaboratory. She is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark, where she teaches Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, and early modern women’s travel writing. She is also the mother of two kids, ages five and one. @pakhimie
The Learning Experience is opening a new daycare center location in Newark and will likely offer a 10% discount for Rutgers faculty and staff. It is projected to open sometime between July and September of this year. New locations in South Orange, and Bloomfield are also coming soon.
If you’ve been at RU-N long enough, you may remember that the Rutgers Newark Child Care Center, located at 75 Halsey, used to offer on-campus care. It has sadly closed.
The Kindercare Learning Center at Newark cares for kids 6 weeks-12 years and offers before- and after-school, as well as school break programs. The discount for Rutgers faculty and staff comes to about $100 off per week.
American Association of University Professors. “Statement of Principles on Family Responsibilities and Academic Work.” 2001.
Casey, Rose. “The Pandemic’s Sexist Consequences” Chronicle of Higher Education (March 18, 2021)
Ellis, Lindsay. “Many Female Academics Face Big Challenges—and Covid-19 Raises the Stakes, Report Says” Chronicle of Higher Education (Mar 9, 2021)
Flaherty, Colleen. “COVID-19 and Beyond: Solutions for Academic Mothers” Inside Higher Ed (March 11, 2021)
Flaherty, Colleen. “COVID-19: A Moment for Women in STEM?” Inside Higher Ed (March 10, 2021)
Flaherty, Colleen. "Where Caregiving and Gender Intersect" Inside Higher Ed (March 31, 2021)
Hamlin, Kimberly. "Why are There So Few Women Full Professors?" Chronicle of Higher Education (March 30, 2021)