Childcare can be both complex to set up and costly during normal times–factor in COVID-19 and the reality that most kids aren’t going to back to full-time in-person instruction this fall, and working parents have another cascade of obstacles to overcome.
Bank of America is seeking to alleviate some of that uncertainty with a host of childcare support initiatives. Launched earlier this year, the multi-pronged program was set to expire Aug. 15, but the banking giant announced last week that it would extend the efforts through the end of the year.
Employees can claim between $75-$100 per day in childcare reimbursements for kids up to age 12 or up to age 21 if the child has special needs. The program applies to employees working at home or in an office, and there is no cap on the number of days for which employees can claim childcare reimbursements.
So far, the organization says employees have set up more than 1 million days of childcare through the program, and BofA has released more than $100 million in reimbursements to employees.
Jessica Cullen, Bank of America relationship manager, relies on the reimbursement program for care for her 3- and 1-year-old daughters. She found her own caregiver–a teacher at her daughters’ daycare center–and says she completed the reimbursement application in less than two minutes.
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“My entire management team has been extremely supportive, especially with me having children at home,” she says. “It makes me really proud to work for Bank of America.”
Like Cullen, employees can set up their own care, or the organization provides referrals, discounted childcare services and childcare options for specific ages and needs. For instance, BofA teammates get priority access to learning hubs, featuring small-group, in-person facilitated learning, offered through a partnership with Mathnasium and Sylvan and facilitated by Bright Horizons. The organization has also teamed up with Khan Academy to offer tutoring, educational resources, virtual field trips and after-school programs for school-aged kids of BofA employees.
The bank has also launched an online hub for parents, providing information on childcare, resources for virtual education, opportunities to connect with other parents and more.
Bank of America is among a growing number of employers tackling the childcare crisis, though, according to research released this week by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), few are providing such direct support. For instance, just 9% of employers surveyed are offering childcare stipends, and about 20% are providing free back-up care. Approximately one-quarter of those surveyed provide discounts for childcare, and about one-third have launched emergency-related childcare leave programs because of COVID-19. Of note, much larger percentages of those surveyed said they are considering implementing such programs.
More than half of those surveyed said they are looking at ways to retain working parents with specific programs and offerings–a finding that dovetails with recent research that the pandemic could lead to a mass exodus of women from the workforce because of childcare conflicts.
See also: Employees quitting over childcare needs