Recently, I consoled a fellow postdoc during her latest crisis. Her problem was not that her PCR primers didn’t work or that her paper just got rejected for the 5th time. No, her problem was that she was a single mother of two adorable girls, and one of them was sick with a fever. Therefore, baby girl couldn’t go to daycare, and my postdoc friend needed to cancel a meeting with some very important people with whom it had taken months to schedule.
Last week, I got exciting news in my email inbox. The NIH Office of Research Services was launching a new program: NIH Child and Dependent Back-Up Care.
This program assists NIH employees when they need to be at work and their regular child or adult/elder care is unavailable. Bright Horizons Family Solutions, the company with which NIH has contracted, is a nationwide provider of back-up care services, including center-based child care, in-home child care, in-home mildly ill child care, in-home adult/elder care, and self-care.
How does it work? NIH employees are eligible to use up to 10 days of back-up care per calendar year. They pay an hourly rate based on the type and amount of care used. The care is available anywhere in the United States because Bright Horizons has more than 300 licensed managed centers that offer back-up care services as well as an extensive extended network of in-home child and adult/elderly back-up care services.
While NIH employees must pre-register (at no cost) before using the program, reservations for care are required. Reservations can be placed from one month in advance to the actual day that care is needed.
Now, you may be wondering why I, a childless postdoc with healthy parents (knock on wood!), am so excited about this new program. Well, this program will help people like my single-mother postdoc friend. And it may even come in handy for one of those busy people with whom you worked so hard to schedule that important meeting. This program is going to benefit all of us.The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Government.
Wenny Lin, PhD, MPH, is a fellow in the Cancer Prevention Fellowship Program at the National Cancer Institute. Prior to joining the Nutritional Epidemiology Branch in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, Wenny earned her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2009 and her PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008.