In an effort to meet the growing needs of faculty, staff and graduate students, and to continue to attract and retain skilled team members, Syracuse University is expanding benefits offered to assist with child care, elder care and other family needs. Following a recommendation of the Chancellor’s Workgroup on Diversity and Inclusion to provide better support for families, the Benefits Advisory Council (BAC), a diverse representation of the campus community, assessed current needs, reviewed best practices and presented findings intended to ease pressures on families regarding availability, accessibility and affordability of dependent care.
For faculty and staff, the new subsidies will benefit a greater number of families by increasing the household maximum eligibility for the subsidies and the dependent age limit, as well as the actual annual amount of the subsidies. Also, a newly designed online resource will provide a central hub for helpful information families are seeking to support their needs. Plans also include an increase in the child subsidy amount provided to graduate students.
“We are grateful for the thoughtful approach taken by the Benefits Advisory Council as they looked at ways to alleviate some of the stressors on our employees in balancing work/life issues,” says Andrew Gordon, senior vice president and chief human resources officer. “Part of the solution is to bring together in one place information that can help families, an on-line resource where they can become more aware of the many options available to them. Another part of the solution is to provide more subsidy support to help offset the growing pressures on families faced with child care and other dependent care needs.”
Gordon says the steps being taken now and the changes to the Child Care Subsidy Program that will become effective January 1, 2019, are part of a continuous effort to support the changing needs of families. Details of the newly expanded subsidy programs include:
Faculty and staff
- Broadening the number of eligible families by increasing the annual faculty and staff household income maximum from the current $100,000 to $150,000;
- Providing increased financial assistance for faculty and staff by raising the annual tax-free child care subsidy for children under age 6 from $1,000 to $1,500 per child;
- Providing additional support for older children of faculty and staff, ages 6 to 12, who may need after-school or other care with a new annual tax-free subsidy of $750 per child;
- Providing increased support for faculty and staff caring for an elder or disabled dependent with a new annual tax-free subsidy of $750 per dependent; and
- Increasing the annual cumulative household maximum tax-free subsidy for faculty and staff from $2,000 to $3,000.
- Doubling subsidy support for graduate students earning less than $65,000 from $500 per child to $1,000 per child under age 6, raising the maximum subsidy per family to $2,000. This program will continue to be run by the Graduate School Office, with the same application process. As required by federal law, the subsidy is taxable.
As many of the University’s graduate students have or are starting families, Peter Vanable, dean of the Graduate School, says this increased subsidy is essential to providing greater support to this important population.
“Our graduate students are critical to the University’s short- and long-term success, from both student experience and research excellence perspectives,” says Vanable. “This increased subsidy, combined with our recent efforts to enhance healthcare benefits at a reduced cost, will allow us to better support our graduate students, both current and future.”
A central hub of information and resources available to help employees access Work Life Benefits and Resources provided by the University, includes caregiving and child care resources, adoption assistance and financial consultation, among other areas of interest.
The Benefits Advisory Council and other campus constituents have identified a growing gap in the demand for child care among faculty, staff and graduate students, and the availability of child care resources. A feasibility study will be launched in the fall to thoroughly assess options for addressing that gap. Further, the BAC will explore opportunities for expanding elder care benefits and ways to assist employees with aging parents and other dependent adults.