The University provides subsidized Emergency Backup Child Care a free Premium Membership to eligible full time students and post docs. To access the benefits, students and post docs must first join the Family Center


The University provides Emergency Backup Child Care for full-time students and university post-doctoral fellows at Penn. Part-time students, online students, visiting scholars, and HUP post docs are not eligible for this benefit.

Emergency backup care is provided in your home or in a child care center during unexpected or emergency situations that would normally prevent you from completing academic work or training. The program is administered by To be eligible for backup care, you must first join the Family Resource Center, a staff person will notify you of your eligibility upon joining. 

The 2020-2021 Emergency Backup Care Program started July 1, 2020. This program has been generously funded by the Office of the Provost, GAPSA, the Office of Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, as well as the Family Resource Center.

From July 1, 2020- June 30, 2021 full-time students and eligible post-docs with children receive a maximum of days of backup child care. Emergency backup child care is available in your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week or available at a child care center. A session of care is a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 10 hours. The care is provided by BackUpCare caregivers. All BackupCare caregivers and child care centers are fully vetted so that you can feel comfortable using them on short notice. 

Your Co-pay Costs: 

In-Home Backup Care is $5/hour for up to two children.

In-Center Backup Care is $10/day per child. 

Penn is subsidizing the rest of the costs. If you need more than 7 days of care during the year, BackUpCare can connect you with their partner agency in Philadelphia or you can use your membership to find regular child care. There will be a $30.00 cancellation fee to the Eligible Individual if an In-home Backup Childcare request is cancelled after a provider has already been reserved for a job, or a $60 cancellation fee to the Eligible Individual if the cancellation occurs once a provider is en route to the location of the job. If an In-center Backup Childcare reservation is cancelled within twenty-four (24) hours to the reservation date, the Eligible Individual will be charged his/her daily fee, and the cancellation counts as one day of care.


Penn Portal

Day care centers are now available in backup care offering. To find the closest center near you enroll at or download and use the Care@Work App for care needs on the go.

Accessing Benefits

Visit the new Care@Work portal to access your Back up Care Benefits and Premium Membership in one convenient location. 

New and returning users will need to register using the name of the student or post doc and the same email address used on their Family Center membership. If you have not signed up for the Family Center membership you will not have access to benefits. 

  • New Family Center members need to allow processing time before receiving access to backup care. 
  • To access Backup Care, visit Care@work portal and select "My Kids" from the portal menu. 
  • Members can now access their benefits from the Care@Work App or the via the desktop.

Email with questions about benefits and access. Call 855-781-1303 to speak with a representative.

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Q: Who can use this emergency backup child care program?

Any full-time student at the University of Pennsylvania who has dependent children is eligible. In addition, all University post-doctoral fellows, and affiliates who are registered in the Biomedical Postdoctoral Programs, are also eligible. All eligible students and post-docs must join the University's Family Resource Center to have access to backup child care. Joining the Family Center is free and can be completed online.

If you attempt to use the Emergency Backup Care Program and are not a full-time student or eligible post-doc, you will not receive the University subsidy and you will be charged for the full cost of the care ($35/hour). Full-time University employees who are also part-time students should utilize the backup care program offered by the University's Human Resources Department.

Q: When is it appropriate to use Penn's emergency backup child care services?

Whenever your child care responsibilities will interfere with your ability to complete academic work and training and you need someone to provide care for your children. Penn will subsidize your costs for up to 7 days during the year (July-June). 

Q: What situations might be a reason to use emergency backup child care?

Examples of when you might use emergency backup child care include the following:

  • your child's school is closed for vacation
  • your daycare provider is closed
  • your child is mildly ill
  • your regular caregiver is sick or unavailable
  • your academic training requires you to work late or on weekends

Q: Does my child need to be a certain age in order to receive backup care?

Children ages 17 or under are eligible to receive backup care services.

Q: When are child care providers available?

Backup child care is available in your home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A session of care is a minimum of 4 hours and maximum of 12 hours.

Q: What is the process for arranging child care?

Backup care is provided by You must be registered with the University's Family Resource Center in order to be eligible for backup care. Registration is free and can be completed online.

Students who are registered can visit the Care@work portal or call directly at 855-781-1303 to request backup child care. Identify yourself as a Penn student or post-doctoral fellow. The child care specialist will confirm your eligibility and discuss the fees for which you are responsible (Penn provides a generous subsidy for these services, but you're still responsible for a portion of the cost.) Your credit card information will be taken down, and BackUpCare will identify a provider for you who meets your specific needs. You will receive two confirmations:

  • will call to tell you about your caregiver.
  • The caregiver will call to confirm the date, time and location of the job.

When the child care has been completed for the day, your credit card will be charged the appropriate fees depending on the length of time and the number of children cared for that day.

Q: When can I call?

The BackUpCare call center is available at 855-781-1303 during the following hours:

  • Monday-Thursday: 7am-8pm
  • Friday: 7am-5pm
  • Sunday: 5pm-8pm

Q: How much notice do I need to give? 

Keep in mind that the more time you give BackUpCare, the more likely they can provide you with a caregiver that's appropriately matched to your individual needs. You can schedule BackUpCare well in advance of the service date but in general, 24 hours advance notice is preferred and usually sufficient, but BackUpCare may be able to fulfill same-day care needs.

Q: Can I use care on a school holiday?

Yes, you can request care for school holidays and other days when school is not in session. But you must call at least several days in advance for those requests; many people will need care on those same days and if you wait until the last minute, BackUpCare may not be able to fulfill your request. In addition to professional development days for teachers and school vacation weeks which are determined by school district, the following are "high volume" days when there are many requests to be filled:

  • Martin Luther King Day (January)
  • President's Day (February)
  • Last week in August/first week in September
  • Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (September/October)
  • Columbus Day (October)
  • Veteran's Day (November)

Q: How much do I pay?

When using a caregiver provided by BackUpCare, your co-pay is $5/hour for in-home care, $10/day per child for in-center care. You pay by credit card after the care is completed; Penn subsidizes the majority of the backup care costs.

Q: What if I need to cancel my request for care?

If you cancel once a provider has already been reserved for your job, your credit card will be charged a $30 cancellation fee.

Q: What happens if I use my 7 days of care but still want to use the Backup care service?

If eligible Individuals would like to use more than the 7 days of care, which is the allowable limit through Penn Family Center's Backup Care benefit, they will pay an hourly cost of $35.00 by credit card.

Q: Are backup care services available if I bring my children to a conference?

It depends. BackUpCare may be able to supply care if they have providers available in the geographic area of your conference in the United States. Care cannot be provided outside of the U.S.

For U.S. locations, call the same way you would call for an in-home care arrangement. More advance notice is required for non-local arrangements. will need to research whether there are appropriate backup child care resources in the community where you will stay. Once identifies a caregiver for your assignment, you will be contacted the same way as described above, your credit card information will be taken for your co-pay obligation at the same rate as for in-home care, and you will receive and orient the caregiver to the hotel space in which the care will be provided just as you would to your home. Please remember that this care only can be provided for academic-related activities in another U.S. location.

Q: How do I know the child care providers are good?

The screening process is thorough. Candidates are screened for child care experience and interviewed. reviews and evaluates the candidate's background and style via open-ended questions and hypothetical scenarios. They determine the candidate's knowledge of child development, limit-setting techniques, and the degree to which the candidate shows warmth, creativity, know-how, humor, and flexibility. Only those who meet the stringent BackUpCare criteria and can produce at least three recent child care references are invited to continue the process. researches personal information, work history and child care references. All child care references are checked by phone and followed by a social security verification, a criminal background check covering the previous seven years of work, and a cross-check of their name against the National Sex Offender Public Registry. Candidates are also required to complete the nationally-recognized health and safety training program. Successful candidates are oriented to agency rules, procedures and expectations. In addition, many caregivers are certified and trained in infant and child CPR. Once the caregivers start working, follows up with all clients to ensure that they continue to meet your expectations.

Q: How can I make the transition easy for my children?

Before the caregiver arrives, let your children know that a wonderful playmate is on the way. Suggest that they show the caregiver their favorite toy or book. When the caregiver arrives, introduce her warmly to the children. If you are nervous, the children will pick up your signals. Consider going over the house rules -- TV, snacks, videos, bedtime -- with the caregiver and the children together so that the ground rules are clearly set. It's important to review the emergency telephone numbers with the caregiver. At the very least, provide the number where you and/or your spouse/partner can be reached, the pediatrician's name and number, a neighbor or friend to call in case of an emergency, and a list of any allergies that the children may have. Never sneak out the door. Say goodbye happily and firmly, and leave. Coming back or delaying your departure will increase your children's anxiety.

Q: When I call next time, can I get the same caregiver? Can I arrange care directly with her?'s goal is to have as much consistency in care as possible for your children. They will be happy to contact your last caregiver to see if she is available. And you may ask the caregiver if she can return on another day BUT you must also inform BackUpCare that you are doing so. All child care with BackUpCare clients must go through them.

Q: Will the caregiver clean the house?

Backup caregivers come prepared to make sure your children are safe and happy, but not to do regular housecleaning. If you're interested in additional services consider signing up for a FREE Premium Membership at

Q: Who can I contact for more information?

Contact the Family Resource Center, at You can also contact at 855-781-1303, or visit their website for more information.

Want a little extra help at home?

Good news: We've purchased a FREE Premium Membership for you!

Penn Portal is the largest and fastest growing service for families to find trusted, high quality caregivers:

  • Ongoing, occasional or last-minute care
  • Babysitters, nannies, senior care providers, dog walkers, housekeepers & more
  • Free background checks, plus references and ratings

All full-time students and select post-docs at Penn are eligible for a FREE Membership but you must first join the Family Resource Center. will monitor site interactions and do some preliminary screening on members to promote a safe community. But does not conduct background checks on members or verify credentials. The site relies on the families to run the background check offered through the site and follow the guidelines in the Safety Center, including the advice in this Safety Guide for hiring a caregiver or finding a child care center. 

Please email us with questions about your eligibility or access,


Accessing Benefits

  • Join the Family Center
  • Sign up for the Free Premium Membership using your University of Pennsylvania email address by going to
  • Complete the registration information to set up your account
  • Sign into your new account
  • Select I want to find care for "My Kids"
  • then select "I want to search on my own"

You may call directly for assistance at 855-781-1303 to speak with someone who can help you.

Students must sign up for the Family Center first before they can access benefits, accounts must be set up under the name of the Penn student or postdoc (not spouses) and must use the same email address listed on the Family Center membership. Student must use our specific portal to access their free membership.

Child care or other services arranged with this membership are not subsidized by the university and child care rates are negotiated between parent and caregiver.


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