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Dependent Care Survey Results

In January 2014, members of the College community received an exploratory survey designed to better understand community opinions and needs for child care and dependent adult care. Staff, students, and faculty interested in pursuing additional employee benefits developed a survey based on a historic document, the Women's Concerns Committee's 1991 survey. A subcommittee of students, faculty, and representatives from Human Resources, the Staff Advisory Council, and Institutional Research then revised and conducted the survey. Please see below a summary of the results, as compiled and analyzed by that committee. Read the complete report [pdf].

This survey was emailed to the faculty-staff listserv in late January. In addition, paper surveys were available at various campus locations. Of the 958 employees on active payroll, 224 completed the survey (23 percent of total employees on payroll). From the 23 percent of total employees who took the survey, 62 percent were staff members, and 28 percent were faculty (10 percent of the respondents did not disclose their employee status). It is important to recognize that the views that follow represent those held by 23 percent of our total faculty and staff. Sixty-seven percent of our employees did not take the survey so we do not know their views on the questions below.

Respondents' Views on Additional Childcare and Adult Dependent Care

Child care

The survey began by asking the participants if they thought the College should offer additional child care. Nearly two-thirds indicated that the College should consider offering additional child-care benefits. One-third indicated that current offerings were sufficient (15 percent) or not important to them (22 percent).

Adult dependent care

When asked to share their views on additional adult dependent care, just under half (46 percent) of respondents indicated that they think the College should consider adding additional adult dependent care benefits. The other half said that current adult dependent care benefits are sufficient (22 percent) or that this issue is not important to them (32 percent).

Respondents' Current and Future Needs for Child or Adult Dependent Care

About half of the respondents indicated that they do not currently have or expect to have (in the short term) child or adult dependent care needs. About one-third currently need or are using care services, with 28 percent using child care and 6 percent using adult dependent care. Similarly, about one-third (34 percent) expect to have care needs in the next two to three years (respondents to this question could offer multiple responses).

Interest in Additional Dependent Care Services

The survey asked which additional services respondents might be interested in, if offered by the College. The most popular options for about half of respondents, were subsidized off-site child care and out-of-home backup childcare services. Almost as popular were in-home backup child-care services and subsidized membership in child-care networks (with 43 percent and 40 percent, respectively). A later question on the survey included on-site child care among the options. (The College is not currently considering on-site child care; this was an exploratory question.) Interest in subsidized off-site care was the third most popular (with 32 percent selecting it) after "subsidized on-site child care" (58 percent) and "on-site child care, even if not subsidized" (54 percent).

Following up on attitudes about on-site care, the survey asked how the costs of operating such a facility would be handled. About half of respondents (53 percent) indicated that parents should pay for on-site child care on a sliding scale based on their income, with the College covering all remaining costs. One-third felt that parents should pay most or all of the cost, and smaller percentages indicted that the College should pay most (10 percent) or all (3 percent) of the costs. When asked how the College should cover its share of the expenses in such a scenario, the most popular response (82 percent) was "fundraising to create an endowment fund for child care."

The most common reason employees listed for lack of interest was that they did not currently have child-care needs (85 percent). Twenty-seven respondents (19 percent) believed that the College's funds should be allocated for other benefits. Three percent indicated their current child-care arrangements were satisfactory.

Finally, more than half of the respondents (59 percent) who had child-care needs indicated satisfaction with their current arrangements. Sixty-three percent indicated satisfaction with their current adult dependent care arrangements. Respondents could answer yes or no.

Respondents' Views on Dependent Care Benefits Currently Offered by the College

The survey asked participants how satisfied they were with the child-care referral service that the College offers through Carebridge. Twenty-two percent indicated were satisfied to very satisfied with this service. While 39 percent of respondents were neutral about this service, more than one-third were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with this service. Almost half of respondents were satisfied to very satisfied with the flexible spending dependent care account option. While 34 percent of respondents were neutral about this benefit, 18 percent were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with this benefit.

Respondents' Additional Comments about Dependent Care

Some respondents (33) offered additional thoughts about this topic, and there were several themes apparent within these responses, some of which were contradictory. This indicates the range of views our community holds on this topic. These themes are presented below in descending order of frequency.

  • Providing additional dependent-care benefits would reflect our stated community values
  • Adding benefits is not feasible and is not a College responsibility, as current benefits are adequate and already favor employees with families
  • Having additional dependent-care benefits would be a tool for recruitment, retention, and productivity.