During normal times, it’s challenging enough for students balancing child or dependent care with graduate studies. Now, as the semester at Berkeley launches remotely, and many children are learning from home as well, the burden on student parents is especially heavy.
Fortunately, a number of new resources and recent policy adjustments will help ease the stress for those dealing with childcare challenges.
CareBubbles, a new parent-to-parent online resource created in partnership with the Berkeley Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Work and Family (CACWF) and the Chancellor’s COVID-19 Dependent Care Working Group, is designed to help UC Berkeley community members meet their child care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Need shared childcare or a playdate pal for your toddler? CareBubbles could be your resource.
Recently announced relaxed restrictions for Academic Student Employees childcare reimbursement may help with the financial burden for Graduate Student Instructors and other ASEs with children. For fall term 2020, ASEs will be permitted to seek reimbursement for childcare provided by a friend or relative living in the same household as the ASE, with some important restrictions. This temporary exception and restrictions are detailed in this August 31st memo.
To provide graduate students with additional flexibility and financial support for caregivers, for the 2020-2021 academic year, the Graduate Council has widened the scope of allowable exceptions to part-time enrollment status. Graduate students who have increased caretaking duties due to the pandemic can be approved by their department to transition to part-time status and receive a waiver equivalent to half of the tuition for those terms. Please be sure to read the announcement and FAQs so that you are fully aware of the ramifications of part-time enrollment on your degree progress.
In other good news, graduate students with dependents are eligible for 120 hours of subsidized back-up care if their child’s school is closed, or their regular caregiver is not available. Students must be pre-registered for the program. Register here.
Lastly, to help graduate students, as well as undergraduates, academic appointees, and staff who are grappling with dependent care and other family-related issues during these unprecedented times, the new Caring for Families website is designed to help. With the aim of being a primary information hub, it contains many of the dependent care support resources listed above and will continue to grow.
As they say, to be a good caregiver, you must take care of yourself first. It’s hoped that these resources and support will ease some of the stress for graduate student caregivers and parents and allow time to appreciate family.