HR program helps caregivers in times of need

Operated by the Division of Human Resources (HR), the Backup Care program is a safety net for caregivers that enables faculty and staff at Penn to utilize temporary care for children and adults.

Employees can use the service when, for instance, the babysitter cancels on short notice, an adult is recovering from surgery, or an elderly parent cannot be left alone. The program also offers services to provide temporary in-home care to children, at an adult relative’s residence, or at an out-of-town business location.

“Someone may still be breastfeeding and attending an academic conference for a couple of days, so it could be easier for them to take their child with them and have backup care on site at the conference,” says Karen Kille, a worklife specialist in HR’s Quality of Worklife Programs.

Through Penn’s partnership with, faculty and staff can find someone who meets their family’s specific needs. 

The caregivers for children are specifically selected from a childcare agency, and the caregivers for adults are trained home health care aides from adult care agencies.

Parents of young children can also use the service for school holidays or a teacher in-service day. Those arrangements can be made with months in advance. The program can also provide childcare if there is a gap between the end of the school year and the start of summer camp.

“We really value the support Backup Care lends for faculty and staff to take care of family and work commitments, and reduce the stress around sometimes unpredictable situations that occur,” says Kille.

The cost of the service to benefits-eligible faculty and staff varies from about $5-$8 per hour for childcare and $8-$10 per hour for adult care. The fees are based on an employee’s salary as well as factors such as the number of hours needed, the number of family members who receive care, and whether the person receiving care has special needs.

In the 2014 calendar year, the Backup Care program provided more than 400 days of care for Penn faculty and staff.

For more information about the program, visit the HR website.

Backup Care