Sept. 17, 2020
Last month, we received a report written by members of the University Pandemic Academic Advisory Committee (UPAAC) informed by our consultations with more than 80 junior faculty from each of the university’s divisions. The report detailed a comprehensive set of recommendations to address several COVID-related challenges faced by junior faculty as well as staff, PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows. Among the most pressing challenges were those caregiving obligations impacted by the pandemic, from ensuring the well-being of elderly parents to supervising virtual school for elementary-age kids.
Over the summer, we responded to these concerns by introducing a suite of new caregiving programs that you can find on the HR website. Today, we are very pleased to add another support: the COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund, to help cover child care and other caregiving costs that have increased due to the pandemic.
The COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund will reimburse eligible university employees and students for new and unanticipated expenses incurred for child care and other caregiving, as well as caregiving-related distance learning, educational support, and technology needs arising from changes in your regular routines as a result of the pandemic. The program is designed to provide the greatest assistance for those having the greatest demonstrated need. Accordingly, we have created a progressive benefit structure with a maximum benefit of up to $800 per month for those earning up to $50,000 per year; $600 per month for those earning up to $100,000, and $400 per month for those earning up to $175,000. The program is open to all full-time employees as well as doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, residents, interns, and trainees.
This is a temporary, nontaxable financial relief program tied to the federally declared disaster and designed to assist in managing costs incurred specifically due to COVID-19.
The fund will begin accepting reimbursement applications on October 1, for caregiving expenses incurred since September 1 and/or technology expenses incurred since July 1.
More detailed information on the program is available below and through the Benefits & Worklife website. Our colleagues in Human Resources will be available to answer your questions via information sessions scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24 from noon to 1 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 3 to 4 p.m.
As always, we are immensely thankful for all you bring to the life of our university, no matter where in the world you are. We hope that these supports—whether you avail yourself of one or all—continue to help you and your families manage during the pandemic. We also hope you will continue to take care of yourselves and seek the help and support of the university’s mental health and wellness resources available through the mySupport program, including 24/7 access to confidential counseling and referral services by calling 443-997-7000.
Your service remains an inspiration to us and undergirds our mission to educate, care for others, and create the knowledge that will lead us through and beyond this difficult moment.
Thank you. Stay safe. Be well.
Ronald J. Daniels
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Vice President for Human Resources
COVID-19 CAREGIVING RELIEF FUND
A new COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund has been established to help cover child care and other caregiving costs that have increased due to the pandemic. This fund will be available to eligible individuals across multiple salary tiers through the end of the calendar year, at which point we will review the program based on the state of the pandemic and its impacts, such as school closures. This assistance is directly tied to the special tax rules now in effect as a result of the federally declared disaster due to COVID-19, and we will keep you apprised of any change by the federal government. If the federally declared disaster ends, the tax treatment of any reimbursements will be impacted.
Those employees who fall in the eligible salary brackets and have a minimum of one year of service to JHU, full-time JHU doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, medical students, house staff, residents, interns, and trainees are eligible to apply. The maximum amount available per employee is capped at $800, $600 or $400 per month and awarded on a progressive scale for those earning base salary levels up to $175,000.
Examples of COVID-19 related expenses eligible for reimbursement through the fund include:
- School-age child care and homework supervision during the period of remote learning (incremental increase in expense only; dependent eligibility required).
- Virtual or in-person tutoring, eLearning coaches, or other caregiving expenses to support digital learning.
- In-home child care needed because of regular care interruptions due to COVID-19 (incremental increase in expense only; dependent eligibility required).
- Eldercare for immediate family only, for example, meal delivery or household services that are usually provided by a family member or adult day center, or are newly required due to COVID-19.
- Educational or special needs services provided to dependents that are normally provided in a public school setting, for example, occupational or speech therapy.
- Wi-Fi and bandwidth boosters required by a dependent for remote learning (incremental increase in expense only).
- Computers or other technology or equipment for use by a dependent during remote learning (e.g., a laptop, microphone, camera, or noise-canceling headphones). This category will be limited to a maximum benefit of $1,000 per participant for expenses incurred on or after July 1, 2020.
There are some expenses that are not eligible due to the limitations in the federal rules governing emergency tax-free status for disaster relief aid and the design of the fund. Excluded are any expenses reimbursed from any other source, whether insurance, a dependent care flexible spending account, the JHU Child Care Voucher, or otherwise; child care arrangements already in place prior to COVID-19; private school tuition; and the cost of holding slots in a child care center if not actively attending.
Applications to access the funds will open the week of October 1 for eligible expenses incurred no earlier than September 1 (for caregiving or educational support) or July 1 (for technology). Proof of expenditures must be submitted at the time of application for reimbursement, so please be sure to keep receipts and other documentation. Comprehensive information about the program, including many questions and answers, is available on the Benefits & Worklife website.