COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund

The COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund (CCRF) provides reimbursement to eligible employees and students who have incurred additional and qualifying caregiving, remote learning support, and technology equipment expenses as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click below to learn more about eligibility and expenses. Applications are now OPEN.

Family & Caregiving Programs Overview:

For full-time Johns Hopkins University faculty, staff, and graduate learners — hear about resources available to support you and your family. This pre-recorded live webinar offers a brief overview of all Family & Caregiving programs, an in depth look at the recently launched COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund, as well as a Q&A session. A pdf of the slides presented is available here.

Watch  the recorded webinar.

About CCRF

CCRF was created to respond to increased financial costs parents may incur given school closures. In addition, the fund can be utilized for incremental childcare and elder care costs if these incremental costs are a direct result of COVID-19.

All expenses must be reasonable and necessary, not be covered by insurance, not be submitted for reimbursement through a dependent care flexible spending account, JHU Childcare Voucher, JHU COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund, or reimbursed through any other means.

Eligible expenses for caregiving (childcare and elder care) and educational and remote learning support (tutoring, speech therapy, occupational therapy, incremental increases to Wi-Fi service) must be incurred on or after September 1, 2020.  In a two-parent household, both parents must be working or studying in order to be eligible for caregiving reimbursement.

Technology equipment expenses (tablet, computer, laptop, printer, webcam, speaker, microphone, headphones, and Wi-Fi extenders) directly related to remote learning for dependent children must be incurred on or after July 1, 2020.

All funds are distributed in the form of a reimbursement, with valid documentation of the expense required and validated by Discovery Benefits, the University’s third party vendor. Reimbursements under CCRF are provided tax-free under section 139 of the Internal Revenue Code. This is a temporary and limited benefit, tied to the national state of emergency due to COVID-19. When the state of emergency is lifted, this fund may close.

All distributions are subject to audit by JHU.  If an employee or student receives a reimbursement in error, it is their obligation to promptly repay any monies disbursed erroneously, after notification by Discovery Benefits or the University.

The University reserves full discretion to modify or terminate the COVID-19 Caregiving Relief Fund at any time and may deny any expenses not supported by appropriate documentation or deemed not eligible under the program terms and conditions.

Applications are now OPEN.

Eligibility

Who is eligible to use the CCRF? 

Full time benefits eligible JHU employees, doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, house staff, residents, interns and trainees with base salary up to $175,000 (collectively, “JHU Affiliates”).

What is the amount of the CCRF benefit?

There are two types of awards available – a monthly, recurring caregiving benefit and a non-recurring technology fund.

Funds are available per-JHU Affiliate. This means that if you are in a household with two JHU Affiliates, each JHU Affiliate may submit for reimbursement up to the maximum monthly amount not to exceed 100% of the qualifying expense. Each JHU Affiliate may submit for reimbursement up to the maximum for technology equipment expenses.

Caregiving (Recurring Monthly)

For caregiving and remote learning support, the maximum CCRF benefit available per JHU Affiliate is capped at $800, $600 or $400 per month depending on base salary level.

Salary Level Monthly award per eligible affiliate (maximum)
0 – $50,000 $800
$50,001 – $100,000 $600
$100,001 – $175,000 $400

Caregiving expenses must be incurred on or after September 1, 2020.

Technology Equipment for Dependents (One-time cap)

For technology equipment, the maximum CCRF benefit available per JHU affiliate is $1000. Once the $1000 is reimbursed, no further benefit is available. It does not recur.

Salary Level One-time award per eligible affiliate (maximum)
0 – $175,000 $1000

JHU Affiliates may submit claims for technology equipment expenses directly related to remote learning for dependents in grades Kindergarten – 12th grade, only.  Technology equipment includes tablet, computer, laptop, printer, webcam, speaker, microphone, headphones, and Wi-Fi extenders.  The technology fund, capped at $1000, is in addition to the monthly CCRF benefit for caregiving and remote learning support expenses.

Technology equipment expenses must be incurred on or after July 1, 2020.

Eligible Expenses

  • Remote Learning Support: Incremental tutoring and other costs incurred to support remote learning for a school age dependent child (including virtual or in-person tutoring, eLearning coaches, learning pods and drop-off learning centers)
  • Remote Learning Support: Educational or special needs services provided to a dependent child to supplement  those normally provided in a school setting, for example, occupational or speech therapy
  • Remote Learning Support: Incremental Wi-Fi service charges incurred to support remote learning for a dependent child
  • Childcare: Incremental school age childcare costs for a dependent child to supplement or replace time that dependent children would have been in school (including school age care in-home, in-center care, learning pods)
  • Childcare: Incremental childcare costs for a pre-Kindergarten dependent child incurred as a result of the ordinary care being impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., ordinary care provided by a high-risk grandparent or other family member)
  • Elder Care: Incremental eldercare costs for adult immediate family members. For example, household services usually provided by a family member or adult day center, or that are newly required due to COVID-19
  • Technology Equipment is defined as expenses for a tablet, computer, laptop, printer, webcam, speaker, microphone, headphones, and Wi-Fi extender expenses for a school age dependent child incurred by COVID-19 (desks and chairs are not included) and limited to a maximum benefit of $1,000 per JHU Affiliate for expenses incurred on or after July 1, 2020.

Ineligible Expenses: 

Ineligible expenses under the CCRF include, but are not limited to, each of the following;

  • Expenses that are not reasonable, not necessary or not incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Caregiving and remote learning support expenses incurred prior to September 1, 2020
  • Technology equipment expenses incurred prior to July 1, 2020
  • In-home childcare provided by an immediate family member
  • Regular childcare arrangements or enrichments already in place prior to COVID-19
  • Expenses submitted for reimbursement through a dependent care flexible spending account, JHU Childcare Voucher, JHU COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund, or reimbursed through any other means
  • Private school tuition
  • Test prep classes
  • Cost of holding empty slots in a childcare center if you are not actively attending
  • Transportation
  • Recreation or sports lessons
  • Computer for adults or non-dependents
  • Desk, chair, school supplies or other office equipment
  • Doordash, GrubHub or other meal delivery services
  • Household services such as cleaning, gardening and maintenance
  • Non-essential, luxury or decorative items or services
  • Undocumented expenses and other expenses not permitted under the law
  • Any expense that is not incremental and was an expense the JHU Affiliate was already incurring or would have incurred regardless of the pandemic
How to Apply

How Do I Apply?

EMPLOYEES:
To begin the application process, please log into the Benefits portal by clicking on myChoices Health and Life Enrollment. Once you have enrolled in your 2021 benefits, you can then submit a life event to apply for the fund.

You will be asked to verify whether your claim relates to a dependent child or adult immediate family member.  If your dependent child is not already on file, you will need to submit dependent verification with your application.  Information on acceptable documents can be found here.

STUDENTS:
(Doctoral Students, Postdoctoral Fellows, Medical Students, Residents, Interns, Trainees)
To complete your application, click here.

Reimbursements

Save your receipts! Reimbursements will be handled by Discovery Benefits. You will receive an email when your application is approved and you are able to access Discovery Benefits to file for reimbursement. 
FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Dependents & Family Members

Who is considered a dependent?
Dependent child is a child up to age 18 or 26 for disabled dependents. Click here to learn more about eligible dependents and required documentation.

Who is considered an immediate family member? 
Adult immediate family members include child, spouse, domestic partner, parent (including in-law) or grandparent (including in-law).

Do I need to provide visa status of my dependents? 
No. However, JHU Affiliates are required to provide appropriate documentation confirming eligible dependent status.

Do my dependents need to live with me to be eligible? 

  • For the monthly caregiving reimbursement, yes, your dependents have to be living with you in order to be eligible. The purpose of the benefit is to enable work so costs for dependents who are living and learning in another household would not be eligible.
  • For the technology fund, no. As long as your child is an eligible dependent, expenses for their technology in order to attend school are eligible for reimbursement.

Are my stepchildren eligible? 
Yes, Click here to learn more about eligible dependents and required documentation.

Questions about Expenses

If my expenses exceed the monthly maximum benefit, or if I do not claim the full amount in a given month, can I receive the additional reimbursement in the next month?

  • For caregiving expenses, no. The CCRF benefit has a monthly maximum and is only available for qualifying expenses incurred in the prior month. The CCRF benefit does not roll-over to the next month.
  • For technology equipment, you can submit new receipts anytime up to the cap of $1000.

How do I submit my expenses and get reimbursed? 
Once your application has been approved, reimbursement will be administered by Discovery Benefits, the university’s Flexible Spending Account vendor. To start the reimbursement process you will need to:

  1. Log into your account at https://www.discoverybenefits.com/.  If you are new to Discovery Benefits, you will need to create a username and password.
  2. Once logged in, you will follow the steps to file for reimbursement (under COVID Caregiving Fund or COVID Technology Fund”).
  3. When completing the claim form you will be required to select which dependent the claim is associated with. You will be required to upload proper documentation such as an itemized receipt that includes date of expense, dependent related to, type of expense and amount. You will also be required to provide proof of the incremental cost (pre-covid costs).
  4. Each claim will also require a JHU Affidavit.  Claims will be denied if all required documents are not submitted.
  5. Discovery Benefits will review all documents submitted in support of all claims and determine whether they qualify for reimbursement and will only approve reimbursement for the incremental cost of certain claims. Once approved, Discovery Benefits will reimburse you via direct deposit or by mailing a check to your home address.  If you do not already have direct deposit with Discovery Benefits, you should complete this first, as it is the quickest way to be reimbursed. Claims will be reimbursed 5-10 business days after the completed reimbursement request is submitted. 
  6. Appeals for denied claims should be submitted to worklife@jhu.edu and will be reviewed by a JHU Committee.

Questions about Remote Learning

Are expenses related to the hiring of an individual to provide in-home remote learning support for a school age dependent during school hours eligible? 
Yes, provided such expenses are properly substantiated and have or will NOT be submitted for reimbursement through the JHU COVID-19 Employee Relief Fund or reimbursed through any other means.

The cost of care for my school age dependent(s) exceeds the monthly benefit. Are any funds available to help with the gap between the CCRF reimbursement and the actual cost of care?
No. The goal of CCRF is to help alleviate the burden of unexpected and incremental costs but not to cover them in full.  Therefore, no additional funds are available to help with potential gaps in care expenses.

My child needs academic help or supervision for remote learning. Is this reimbursable? 
It depends. If you use an in-person or virtual tutor to support remote learning while schools are closed, your expense is eligible for reimbursement as long as it exceeds what you were paying for school-age care prior to the pandemic.

In my community, the public schools have gone virtual but many private schools are open. If I enroll my child in a private school in order to take advantage of the in-person learning, can I submit the cost of tuition? 
No. Private school tuition is not reimbursable under the CCRF.

My child was supposed to be attending kindergarten this year but is now remote. Are costs paid to an individual who is providing in-home remote learning supervision services for my kindergarten dependent reimbursable under the CCRF?
Yes. Dependent children in grades kindergarten and higher are considered school age and eligible expenses incurred to support remote learning, including supervision of the dependent during remote learning, are reimbursable under the CCRF. Because your child is in kindergarten your pre-covid school age costs would be set at zero.

I formed a pod with some other parents to hire a music, art and gym teacher. They used to have those classes in school, but we are no longer sending them. Are these expenses reimbursable?
No.  CCRF will not reimburse expenses for enrichment classes.

My partner reduced their work hours in order to supervise our school age children who will be in remote learning while our public school is closed. Can I pay my partner for their time in order to recoup some lost wages?  
No, tutoring provided by a member of a JHU Affiliate’s immediate family is not reimbursable under the CCRF.

I am paying for faster Wi-Fi service because I am working from home and my children are learning remotely. Can I submit this receipt?
Yes. Incremental Wi-Fi costs incurred after September 1, 2020 to support remote learning for a dependent child are reimbursable under the CCRF. The difference between what you were paying for internet services prior to COVID-19 and the upgrade is eligible for monthly reimbursement.  You will need to submit your monthly bill prior to COVID (or your change in service) along with your new monthly invoice.  Your reimbursement will be denied if your pre-COVID bill is not submitted.

I am forming an educational learning pod with other families and the teacher wants a commitment for the entire school year. Will I be able to submit these expenses under the CCRF?
You can submit your incurred costs on a month-to-month basis. Pre-paid costs are not eligible for reimbursement under the CCRF.  You should not plan on CCRF being available to you for the entire school year. CCRF is subject to close when the national state of emergency ends.

Questions about Technology & Equipment

Is the CCRF benefit for technology equipment tiered by salary level?
No, it is set at a flat $1000 maximum for each eligible JHU Affiliate.

I purchased technology equipment for my children’s remote learning that cost more than $1000. Can I be reimbursed for the total cost?
No. The limit under the CCRF for technology equipment expenses directly related to remote learning for dependents is $1000 even if the JHU Affiliate incurred more than $1000 in actual expenses.

Do I have to submit technology expenses all at once or can I submit receipts at different times?
You may submit separate receipts at any time until you reach your cap of $1000.

Are technology equipment expenses for myself, to accommodate working from home, eligible for reimbursement? 
No. CCRF does not provide reimbursement for technology equipment expenses for the JHU Affiliate.

Are technology equipment expenses for preschool children reimbursable?
No. Technology must be to support remote learning for dependent children in grades Kindergarten through 12th grade.

I upgraded my internet service. Is this reimbursable under the technology fund or the caregiving fund?
Yes, incremental Wi-Fi costs incurred after September 1, 2020 to support remote learning for a dependent child are reimbursable under the CCRF. The difference between what you were paying for internet services prior to COVID-19 and the upgrade is eligible for monthly reimbursement. You will need to submit your monthly bill prior to COVID (or your change in service) along with your new monthly invoice. Your reimbursement will be denied if your pre-COVID bill is not submitted. If you purchased a device or booster to improve your signal, the receipt for that piece of equipment is reimbursable under the technology fund, dated back to July 1, 2020.

Questions about Childcare

My baby was born during COVID-19 so I don’t have any pre-covid care expenses.  Can I submit the cost of childcare I am incurring now?
Perhaps. We would ask you to provide details on the cost of infant-care at your previously chosen provider as the basis for the pre-covid expenses. Regular childcare expenses are not eligible. However, if you incur incremental expenses above and beyond the typical rate for infant care, they may be eligible.

My child’s grandparent was providing my childcare, but now cannot because of concerns about COVID-19 transmission. Is my new care eligible?
Yes. If your family provider is no longer available due to COVID-19, your new costs are reimbursable up to you’re the eligible monthly benefit.

If an individual provides in-home before and after care for a school age dependent child, are these costs reimbursable under the CCRF?
It depends. If the childcare provider is not an immediate family member and, as a result of COVID-19, the current year cost exceeds the prior year cost of before and after care, the difference between the current and prior year amount (“incremental amount”) would be reimbursable. It is critical that the incremental amount be substantiated in the application and claim submission processes. In addition, you should consult your tax advisor to determine if such individual is a household employee requiring employment and other tax obligations for you.

My budget is tight. Can I submit my regular childcare expenses for reimbursement under the CCRF?
No. However, if you incur incremental costs such as a switch from center-based to in-home care, those additional costs may be eligible for reimbursement.

My childcare center has instituted new fees due to COVID-19, for example cleaning fees and an extra required meal fee. Can this be reimbursed?
If your invoice itemizes COVID-19 specific fees charged by your caregiver that are above and beyond the regular caregiving costs, such expenses are eligible for reimbursement under CCRF.  See other resources below.

My regular childcare center had to close for a week due to a COVID exposure. Can I be reimbursed for the tuition for those days?
No. Tuition for regular childcare is not eligible. However, if you hire an additional caregiver to help supplement while your regular center is closed, you may submit that expense. Always check with your childcare center and medical provider to determine whether you and/or your child should quarantine during the time when the childcare center is closed.  Please visit the University’s Benefits website for COVID-19 specific leave policies that may be applicable to you.

I don’t want to return to my childcare center, but also don’t want to lose my slot. Can I submit a receipt for “holding” a childcare slot until a vaccine is available even if my child is not attending?
No, in order to submit for reimbursement, you must be actively enrolled and attending. However, you could submit for reimbursement for the incremental cost of alternate care, such as a nanny or babysitter.

I am considering a new more expensive childcare center. Can I use CCRF to help me afford it?
No.  CCRF is designed to help with extraordinary expenses due to COVID-19, not with regular childcare arrangements.   Also keep in mind this is a temporary fund only available during the pandemic, once the state of emergency ceases, the benefit will end as well.

My partner lost their job due to COVID-19. I’d like to have my child return to their regular childcare center, but now, we can’t afford it without assistance. Can I submit the receipt?
No. CCRF is for childcare expenses that are unanticipated and a direct result of COVID-19 so this claim would not be eligible.

Questions About Elder Care

I am not able to visit my elderly parent due to fear of transmission. Will the CCRF support the costs for home visits or other services that I used to provide? 
Yes, you can submit expenses for elder care if those costs have been incurred due to the pandemic and were unanticipated or unexpected.  In addition, if your parent’s adult day program or regular caregiver is unavailable, you can submit receipts for the incremental cost of replacement care.

Questions About Receipts & REimbursements

Can I still be reimbursed if I don’t have a receipt?
In general, claims will require receipts and other documentation that record the date, amount, and nature of incurred costs.  In extraordinary circumstances, the University will consider a Missing Receipt Affidavit as support for a claim.  The Missing Receipt affidavit will require signature from your provider if for care giving services. To better ensure approval and processing for your claim, it is recommended that you prospectively collect receipts and/or other documentation from your service provider.

Does the amount on my receipt have to directly match my maximum award? 
No. Reimbursements will be made for the cost up to a maximum monthly amount.  This means, if you submit a receipt for qualifying expenses that is greater than the monthly maximum amount, you will be reimbursed up to your maximum monthly amount. For example, you are eligible for a maximum of $600/month and submit a receipt for $1000. You will receive reimbursement for $600 only. If you submit a receipt that is less than the maximum monthly amount, you will receive reimbursement of the actual cost.  For example, you are eligible for $600/month and submit a receipt for $525. You receive reimbursement for $525.

Can I submit more than one receipt for the same month?
Yes. There is no limit to the number of receipts you may submit for eligible expenses. All reimbursements will be capped at the applicable maximum amount.

Can I submit technology equipment expenses and caregiving expenses in the same month?
Yes.

Can I submit receipts for medical expenses under the CCRF?
No.

How do I show the difference between my pre-COVID-19 costs and my current costs?
You will be asked to enter your pre COVID-19 cost and the new cost incurred as a direct result of COVID-19 on the claim form and to provide receipts/underlying documentation that substantiate these amounts.  It is critical that the incremental amount be substantiated in the application and claim submission processes, as only the increase in eligible costs will be reimbursed. To help ensure approval of your claim, it is imperative that you collect receipts and/or other documentation to substantiate eligible expenses that you have incurred.

What must be on the receipt for in-home care?
Name of the provider, dates of service, cost and the names of the dependent children for whom the care was provided.

I paid my care provider in cash and I don’t have a receipt.  How can I be reimbursed?
In general claims will require receipts and other documentation that record the date, amount, and nature of incurred costs.  In extraordinary circumstances, the University will consider a Missing Receipt Affidavit as support for a claim.  The Missing Receipt Affidavit will require signature from your provider. To better ensure approval and processing for your claim, it is recommended that you prospectively collect receipts and/or other documentation from your service provider.

Additional Questions

How is my salary determined for purposes of eligibility?
Your current base salary is used exclusive of bonuses.

Is CCRF only available to JHU Affiliates who are Maryland residents?
No, all JHU Affiliates who meet the eligibility criteria are eligible to apply for the CCRF, regardless of location.

Who do I contact with questions about this program?
Contact the Benefits Service Center at 410-516-2000 or worklife@jhu.edu.

OTHER RESOURCES/LINKS

For questions about this program, contact the Office of Benefits & Worklife at 410-516-2000 or worklife@jhu.edu.