Who is eligible?
To be eligible for the Grant, you must:
Be a benefits-eligible Cornell faculty or staff member eligible to participate in Cornell’s Flexible Spending Dependent Care Account. County Extension Association employees are not eligible to apply for the Grant.
Be unmarried or, based on IRS rules for Dependent Care Accounts, have a spouse/partner who is:
Employed at least part time or
A full-time student (You will need to provide proof of enrollment in classes and an expected graduation date.)
Considered legally disabled or
Unemployed but actively seeking employment: must have legal work authorization to work in the United States (work visa is required and must be attached as documentation).
Have a total household gross income of less than $150,000 per year
Have a child who is your legal dependent (as defined by IRS regulations), and for whom you are financially responsible or be pregnant and anticipating child care expenses for 2018.
Have a child under age 13 or have an older child that has a disability-related special need that can be documented. (We will need a note from a doctor if your child is 13 years of age or older.)
According to Internal Revenue Service rules, faculty and staff who work part time or whose spouse/partner is a full-time student, legally disabled, or unemployed but actively seeking employment may receive a smaller Grant.
Is there a household income limit?
Yes, in order to be eligible for the Grant, you must have a total household gross income of less than $150,000 per year. See previous question for additional eligibility requirements.
Why must my spouse/partner be employed, a full time student, disabled, or actively seeking employment for us to be eligible for the Grant?
IRS regulations of Flexible Spending Dependent Care Accounts govern the Grant. The IRS considers child care expenses to be eligible expenses if they allow you and your spouse/partner, to work or look for work. If your spouse/partner is unemployed as of the time you expect to receive the Grant, you will be required to provide a projection of income for the upcoming year if he or she is actively seeking employment. This amount can be based on the previous tax year tax return or an estimation of salary of his or her given profession. To be eligible for the Grant, any spouse/partner who is looking for work must have legal work authorization to work in the United States (work visa is required and must be attached as documentation). If your significant other remains unemployed throughout the year and doesn’t meet one of the other exceptions/conditions (is disabled or a full time student), you will be ineligible for the Grant and will not be able to use the Grant funds. To understand the term, “actively seeking employment,” you should check the IRS regulations related to flexible spending accounts (www.irs.gov) publication 503.
I share custody for my child with another person who is not my spouse/partner. Can I still apply for the Grant? Yes, but only if you will be claiming the child as a dependent on your tax return for the year in which you use the Grant. If you will not claim the child as a dependent, you cannot apply for the Grant in relation to that child.
I’m a student. Am I eligible?
Students are not eligible for this program. There is, however, a separate program available for students that can be accessed here: (http://studentswithfamilies.cornell.edu/)
What types of child care expenses are eligible for the Grant?
Only expenses related to legal child care, as defined by the New York State Office of Family and Children’s Services (http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/childcare/) are eligible for the Grant. This includes expenses for primary and backup or occasional care arrangements provided for children from 6 weeks through age 12. (For definitions of legal care, see information listed in the question below). Your child(ren) must be enrolled in legal care to be eligible for the Grant. By submitting an application for the Grant, you authorize Cornell University to verify that your child care arrangement fits within these definitions. Any misrepresentation of information can result in the termination of the Grant and could have adverse employment consequences.
What are the program definitions of legal care?
In New York State, there are several forms of legal care, including both informal and regulated care. These include the following categories:
Informal Care - Unregulated but legal (no permit required):
Provider is required to claim income from child care services provided on taxes, and
A person who provides child care in his/her home for a maximum of two children at a time, in addition to his/her own children, or
A person or program providing care for any number of children for less than three hours a day, or
A person who provides care in the home of the child (in-home care), or
Regulated Care – Child care that is regulated by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services, which issues permits (registrations and licenses). Some common types include:
Family Day Care - must be registered. One provider, age 18 or older, receives a permit to care for a maximum of five to eight children on a regular basis in a personal residence. Maximum capacity depends on the ages of children in care.
Group Family Day Care - receives a license. The maximum capacity is 10 to 14 children and depends on the ages of children in care. Care is provided on a regular basis in a personal residence by approved caregivers who are age 18 or older. One caregiver is required for every two children under age two years. A minimum of two providers must be present whenever seven or more children are in care.
Day Care Center - must be licensed. Care is provided to six or more children on a regular basis for more than 3 hours a day, usually at a location other than a residence. There are strict building, staffing and program requirements. Children are grouped by age (6 wks. - 18 mo., 18 mo. - 3 years, 3 - 5 years, 6+ years), which may not mix with other groups.
Small Day Care Center - must be registered. Care is provided to three - six children on a regular basis at a location other than a residence.
School Age Child Care - must be registered. Care is provided on a regular basis to seven or more children who are under 13 years of age and who attend kindergarten or a higher grade. Care is usually provided at a site other than a personal residence.
Camps – In NYS, summer camps must have a permit from the Department of Health to operate legally. The camp is required to be inspected twice yearly and the inspection reports and required plans are filed at the health department and are available for review.
Do overnight camp expenses qualify for the Grant?
No, overnight camp expenses do not qualify for the Grant, per IRS guidelines for Flexible Spending Accounts. However, day camp expenses are eligible.
Does the cost for extracurricular activities qualify for the Grant?
No, expenses for extracurricular activities (for participation on sports teams, for music lessons, or similar) do not qualify for the Grant per IRS guidelines for Flexible Spending Accounts.
What age is a child considered school age?
If the child turns 5 years old between January 1-September 30, 2017 they are considered school age.
My child attends a private kindergarten. Are those costs eligible?
Costs associated with an educational program for age-eligible school children are not covered by the Grant. However, those expenses associated with before-school and after-school care, even if provided by the same provider, are eligible. For example, the fee schedule for a child, age 5, enrolled in a Montessori-type program might show one rate for a program that is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (the length of a typical school day) and a different rate for enrolling in a program scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (the typical school day plus after-school care). Only the difference in the rates is the portion that is eligible for the Grant, in addition to any before-school care costs.
I’m expecting to add a child to my family. Can I apply even though the child is not in our home yet?
If you or your partner is currently pregnant or you are planning to adopt, you must apply by the September 29, 2017 deadline to be eligible for a Grant any time in 2018, even though your child has not yet been born or has not yet arrived in your home. Within 60 days of both parents’ return-to-work date, you should contact Benefit Services to make sure other benefit plan coverage you need will be in effect for the child. Child Grant awards will be pro-rated based on when the child will be placed in day care and cannot be used to pay for child care prior to both parents’ return to work date. For more information about the Flexible Spending Dependent Care Account, visit the Web at: www.hr.cornell.edu/benefits/fsa.html, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (607) 255-3936.
I have a child with a disability-related special need. Can I apply?
Costs associated with specialized care giving, for example a one-on-one aid, required for a child with special needs are covered by the Grant. However, therapy services (speech, physical, occupational or any other therapy provided by a licensed, certified provider) are not.
My special-needs child will be 13 this year. Is she/he still eligible?
Yes, if you have a child age 13 or older and you can provide documentation from a medical doctor (at the time you apply for the grant) that your child has a disability-related special need requiring care beyond the age of 13, you may apply for the Grant. The costs associated with therapy services (for example, for speech, physical, or occupational therapy) are not covered by the Grant.
Can I use grant funds to pay a relative watch my child?
Yes, as long as the family member is not a dependent of the employee. The definition of a dependent is a child under the age of 19 or an adult living in the member’s household receiving 50% of support from the member.