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Childcare Support for Healthcare Workers

Last Updated: May 6, 2020


The Problem: All primary and secondary schools were closed city-wide, leaving many healthcare workers with an increased need for child care in a short period of time despite their own increased hours. While healthcare systems offered increased child care resources for their workers, the substantial demand for child care exceeded the capabilities of work-provided services. In addition, while cities have generally considered daycare and essential business, many locations have closed, either out of fear of spreading illness or because most children are staying home.

Our Approach: Early on, our administration emphatically stated they did not want medical students involved in child care because 1) students providing this service for faculty may lead to conflicts of interest in future evaluations and 2) children may be “super spreaders” of the virus and infect students who were needed for volunteer work in clinical areas. As a workaround, we collaborated with a team from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Icahn School of Medicine, who had started a program pairing healthcare workers with reference-providing, non-medical student babysitters. Notably, this effort is being produced as a resource without the official endorsement of the students’ various schools. That being said, organic distribution of the forms (which have been reviewed by lawyers to assess for liability - see below statement of understanding, as included in the form) has been successful. Healthcare workers were sent a sign-up Google form, in which they were asked to provide a description of the child care job, a verified institutional email address, and their ZIP code. To recruit child care providers, we reached out to our institution’s undergraduate and non-healthcare graduate students asking students to sign up on a different Google form and provide a reference name and phone number, as well as personal contacts with childcare experience. In addition, we identified the contact information for daycare centers that had to be closed because of the pandemic using a Google maps-based tool identifying all centers within a certain radius from a fixed area. We then contacted these closed centers, asking them to share the child care provider sign up with their staff. The childcare sign-up form clearly stated safety precautions including practices to avoid transmission of the virus, signs and symptoms of infection, and advice for social distancing. All child care providers were required to state their understanding that working with the children of healthcare workers would put themselves at an elevated risk of contracting the virus and that by signing up, they would consent to sharing their information with verified healthcare workers. An algorithm was set up such that each time a healthcare worker filled out a request for child care, they would receive an email with the name, contact information, and reference for four randomized child care providers within their ZIP code (so as to not overload the same providers in one area). No instructions were given by the program about hourly rate or the children being cared for (ages, numbers, etc), so participants were instructed to discuss these details on their initial call. The list of child care providers sent to healthcare workers clearly stated that all child care providers were not vetted nor interviewed, and it was up to the healthcare worker to evaluate if the child care provider was a good and safe match for their children.

Students Participating: No students directly involved in childcare, but involved in coordinating requests  


NYU Med Students v. COVID19, NYU Grossman School of Medicine (nyusomvcovid19@gmail.com)