Support for caregivers

Aug. 7, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, working families have been caring for children, disabled adults and elders with dramatically lessened resources from schools and caregivers, and difficult family life issues continue to emerge. Simultaneously, care programs and schools are facing challenging decisions about whether and how they can deliver services/instruction in safe and healthy environments.

We know that many of you are feeling overwhelmed, tired and worried about what the coming year will look like for you and your family. As K-12 schools are rolling out tentative fall plans, many families are having to make care plans quickly, sometimes without a lot of details.

Recognizing this, we have put together a COVID-19 Family Life Working Group, with representation from faculty, staff and students, to better understand these challenges. If you would like to provide feedback and suggestions to the working group, please do so by Aug. 13. The working group will issue recommendations to university leadership by Aug. 24.

Supervisors, chairs and directors are encouraged to engage in open discussions with employees around ways to utilize flexible schedules and workloads, where possible, to help support employees with family and personal care needs. This may include flexibility in start/end times, longer breaks during the workday, flexible meeting times and/or the use of HAP/vacation or unpaid time for a temporary reduction of hours. Department chairs should consider care responsibilities in assigning teaching and meeting times and in distributing service requests.

Our HR partners can help supervisors, chairs and employees to think through possible approaches and navigate these arrangements. Faculty and academics can also reach out to the Office of Faculty Development and Diversity ( to discuss strategies and resources.

In response to both the challenges of COVID-19 and to better meet the needs of working families, the 2021 Child Care Grant will issue flat dollar amount awards, based on household income and age(s) of child(ren), instead of being based on estimated cost of care/expenses during a time of many unknowns. In addition, there will be a second application period offered in June 2021. This period will be open to newly eligible faculty and staff or those whose needs have changed since their Sept. 2020 projections. The June approved applications will result in awards being provided on a post-tax basis for the period of July-Dec. 2021. Additional information will be available at the end of August and applications will be available online beginning Sept. 1.

Additional resources available to Cornell parents include:

  • Parenting During COVID-19 Resources: Explore this page to learn about informal care options and at-home learning resources, and to join a Facebook group for Cornell parents and/or other parent news e-lists.
  • Work/Life in Human Resources: Provides assistance to Cornell community members with family life concerns, such as child and adult/elder care. Email to request a consultation or support.
  • Care@Work by Benefits-eligible Cornell employees have access to a free premium membership to search for caregivers and post available positions.
  • Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: Cornell’s free and confidential brief counseling, support and referral program available to benefits-eligible employees, retirees and their spouses/partners.
  • Eni Confidential Counseling Services: Employees may receive up to three visits from eni Confidential Counseling. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any issue.

We hope that you will take advantage of these resources to support yourself and your family. We have enjoyed meeting many of your family members on Zoom over the past several months!


Mary Opperman
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

Avery August
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs