9/9: Dependent Care Options for Employees

September 9, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As a working mother, I know first-hand the stress and time that goes into securing trusted and reliable care for loved ones. During the pandemic, when school is online, the challenge of working and caring for families is even greater. Our faculty and staff are juggling work responsibilities and online school responsibilities, and we are hearing about the complexities facing families in the current environment.

We know that there is not a one size fits all solution, so we are sending this communication to ensure our employee parents are aware of and have ready access to the child care options the university offers to support you as you balance family obligations with your teaching, research, and work responsibilities. Many managers and supervisors have been proactive in their efforts to be flexible with working schedules during this period. I thank you and encourage you to continue to be flexible and innovative as we support our employees.

We realize this letter is dense with content, so please feel free to use the links below to read the information most important to you or visit the Family and Dependent Care Resources page on the Employee Gateway.

Go to:

USC Onsite Childcare Centers

Back-up Dependent Care: In-home care from Bright Horizons

Back-up Dependent Care: In-home care from Sittercity

Back-up Dependent Care: Bright Horizons Center Care

New Benefits: Learning Pods

New Benefits: Tutoring and School Support Discounts

New Benefits: Employee Portal

Crisis Care

Center for Work and Family Life (CWFL)

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

Leaves of Absence

Ongoing Steps

USC Child Care and Dependent Care Resources

Onsite Child Care Centers for Children (ages 6 weeks through 5 years)

USC offers child care programs at both UPC and HSC, in centers operated by Bright Horizons. These programs, which serve children ages six weeks through five years, continue to operate with increased health, safety, and hygiene measures in place. Bright Horizons is complying with capacity and density guidance from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, and enrollment prioritization is currently based on the following criteria, until county guidelines allow a return to normal capacity levels:

  1. Families with a USC employee required to work onsite and families with a USC employee teaching or conducting research onsite or remotely
  2. Families with a USC employee working from home in a non-teaching and non-research role
  3. Postdoctoral scholars and students

More information about our child care centers is available below:

Back-up Dependent Care (ages 1 month to 18 years and elder care)

Several options are available through Bright Horizons’ back-up care program, which is a care option when your usual child care or elder care options are not available. Note that back-up care is not limited to families enrolled in USC child care centers. Benefits-eligible employees can create an account on the Bright Horizons site to access these options. Please visit the Employee Gateway for detailed information on how to sign up. Once you have an account, you may access in-home or center care:

In-home care provided by a Bright Horizons employee

A vetted caregiver cares for your dependents in your home, with health screenings conducted daily for both the caregiver and family. Bright Horizons will use best efforts to assign the same caregiver for all families who choose a continuous care giving option. When non-continuous or occasional care works best for a family, it is not always possible to provide the same caregiver each time. In-home care:

  • Has a Co-pay of $6/hour per dependent, for up to 3 dependents
  • Requires a minimum of 4 hours/day
  • Can make a reservation for up to 5 days at a time, up to 1 month in advance

Please watch this video on Bright Horizons’ in-home back-up care, including new safety protocols required of all in-home providers.

In-home care provided by a Sittercity.com nanny

Sittercity nanny services can be accessed through the Bright Horizons website, which provides you a free premium Sittercity account and unlimited free basic background checks. You provide information on your needs, and nannies/sitters registered on the site who meet your criteria can initiate contact with you. Nanny services are not managed nor provided by Bright Horizons; they are managed and provided by Sittercity. Note that:

  • Costs vary by nanny and number of children
  • Length of nanny services must be specified (e.g., 3 months)

Center care

The Bright Horizons website allows you to enter your zip code to find which of their centers are open near you. Please note:

  • The cost is $15/day for one child; $25/day for up to 3 children
  • Ages vary by center, with some offering care for children up to 12 years of age
  • Spots can be reserved up to one month in advance of when you’ll need care

Enhanced Family Supports Program: Learning Pods, Tutoring, and Family Portal Offerings

We are happy to announce three additional benefits that USC has secured for families of all benefits-eligible employees through Bright Horizons’ new Enhanced Family Supports (EFS) program, available through June 30, 2021:

Benefit 1: Learning Pods

This benefit helps families find educators who can guide in-home learning for children (ages 5 to 18 years) in small groups or one-on-one. This benefit can be accessed through Sittercity and includes the following features:

  • Parents can post a Learning Pod job or browse for sitters and educators that meet their needs
  • Educators will be badged on the Sittercity site as “Ready to Teach”
  • Learning pods can be virtual and/or in-home

Benefit 2: Tutoring and School Support Discounts

USC employee parents will have access to enhanced tutoring and school support discounts through the following providers:

  • Varsity Tutors
    • For children 5 to 18 years
    • Expert live instruction on diverse subjects: math, science, languages, literature, and more
    • 1:1 online tutoring: 40,000+ tutors and instructors
    • Small group online tutoring: easily create live online small group tutoring sessions
    • Suite of learning tools: including live instant homework help, adaptive testing and grade readiness assessments, learning lab, and weekly progress reports
    • 20% off hourly rates for private or small group academic support and individual classes
    • 20% off academic and enrichment packages
  • Revolution Prep
    • For children ages 5 to 18 years
    • Full-time educators available for online private and small group tutoring, test prep, and academic support
    • Help with core school subjects (+ APs), as well as admissions, standardized, and postgraduate tests
    • 20% off hourly rates for private or small group academic support
    • 33% off and first month free for Adventure Math
    • 20% off private test prep
  • Marco Polo Learning
    • For children ages 3 to 7 years
    • Award-winning early education curriculum, covering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEAM) and literacy topics
    • 3,000 learning games available, with more added weekly
    • Highly engaging and interactive app, with companion guides for parent participation
    • 50% discount on annual subscriptions and 20% off month-to-month plans with Bright Horizons Additional Family Supports

Benefit 3:  Employee Portal

The new Bright Horizons portal for USC employees, expected to launch by the end of September, will serve as a one-stop search and recommendation engine providing dependent care options and solutions based on the unique needs of each employee, greatly improving the ability to solve primary care or educational support challenges.

Crisis care

Many employee parents have asked about crisis care, which Bright Horizons activates during extreme circumstances. In late May, with summer approaching, Bright Horizons deactivated crisis care. Please know that USC has attempted to negotiate crisis care continuance, but given that many Bright Horizons centers are reopening and with the back-up care options available, Bright Horizons does not currently plan to reactivate crisis care.

Helpful Information

Center for Work and Family Life (CWFL)

As a reminder, our employee assistance program is open and serving faculty and staff. CWFL’s mission has always included helping us all balance work and family life – and that need has never been more evident. You can schedule an online appointment with one of our highly trained clinicians to discuss well-being, stress, anxiety, and life balance. Please do not hesitate to call them, 24/7, at (213) 821-0800. This service is free to all benefits-eligible USC employees, and we encourage you to take advantage of it.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account

A Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) is a pre-tax benefit account that can be used for dependent care services including child care services and elder care services. Employees are able to enroll during the annual benefits enrollment process or in situations which the IRS classifies as an allowable event, such as this one with employees who need child care in order to work. Employees can enroll in up to $5,000 in pre-tax withholdings per calendar year, with the account managed by WageWorks. A list of eligible expenses is available here. Additional information can also be found on the WageWorks and Employee Gateway sites.

To enroll, please login to Workday and click on the Benefits application (the icon is a shield with a heart, tooth, and glasses). Click on Benefits in the Change section. Under Benefit Event Type, select “I want to change my Flexible Spending Account”). Select the date when you want to officially enroll in the program and click “Submit.” For assistance with enrollment, please contact the HR Service Center.

Leaves of Absence Related to Dependent Care

Unpaid Temporary Staff Leave – Staff are welcome to discuss the possibility of an unpaid temporary leave with their supervisors and HR Partners. These are approved at the discretion of the department based on staffing and work needs. 

Faculty Leaves of Absence – The Faculty Handbook provides a comprehensive list of leave types available to faculty. Please see the Faculty Handbook or contact your Dean of Faculty for more information.

Paid Family Leave to Care for Dependents in Quarantine

Employees who are unable to work because they need to care for a family member who is quarantined may be eligible for Paid Family Leave. Please contact your HR Partner for more information.

Ongoing steps

We continue exploring additional solutions to support our employee parents. Additionally, a Slack group will be created for employee parents to share ideas, tips, and resources. Stay tuned for details in an upcoming edition of the Gateway Connect. We value each of you and appreciate your continued commitment to USC’s mission, especially given the challenging nature of the global pandemic, which has required our children to remain in our homes to be safe during the start of the school year. We are here to serve you – please do not hesitate to contact your HR Partners and Deans of Faculty with questions or concerns. We also urge you to communicate with your supervisors or department heads and let them know your needs.

If you have questions about any of the options mentioned above or have comments or ideas you wish to share on how the university could better support your family needs, please contact our child care administrator, Olivia Ortega-Sanchez, at ortegasa@usc.edu.


Felicia A. Washington
Senior Vice President of Human Resources

cc: Office of the President

Academic Deans

President’s Senior Leadership Team

Provost’s Leadership Team

Academic Senate

Staff Assembly