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Child Care Grant

male & female daycare providers with young children in daycare setting

Cornell's Child Care Grant provides financial assistance to faculty and staff for child care expenses that allow you and your spouse or partner to work or seek work. 

2024 Full Year Grant Program

(please note: applications are now closed)

Cornell is pleased to announce the 2024 Child Care Grant for qualified expenses from January 1 - December 31, 2024; available to benefits-eligible faculty and staff whose household income in 2024 is expected to be less than $150,000.

Frequently Asked Questions

Child Care Grant Application

Applications will be available 8:30 a.m. on September 25 till October 13, 2023.


Expected Timeline for 2024 Full-Year Child Grant Awards

  • Sept. 25 - Oct. 13: Applications are available for online submission; NOTE: your required backup documentation should be submitted shortly after the Application is filed
  • Oct. 14 - Oct. 29: Application period closed; applications and back-up are reviewed and applicants may be contacted for additional information
  • Oct. 30 - TBA: Awards calculated; applicants are notified of award
  • January 1, 2024: Claims may begin to be submitted to PayFlex

About the Grant

The Cornell Child Care Grant is a Cornell deposit into your Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account that is typically not considered taxable income.** You can apply for and be awarded funds to use toward eligible childcare expenses incurred from January 1 – December 31 of the given year. Funds can cover infant and toddler child care, pre-school/pre-K programs, care on school holidays, school-age summer day camps/programs, and school-age before/after school care.

An award determination is a flat dollar amount based on household income and the age of your child(ren). 

This benefit is a reimbursement program either to you or your provider(s) of care. Funds are deposited into a PayFlex account in your name. PayFlex is the company that processes flexible spending account claims for Cornell. Itemized receipts for childcare expenses must be submitted (electronically or via mail) to PayFlex for reimbursement of your award funds.



  • Are a Benefits-eligible faculty and staff member*,  
  • Are unmarried or have a spouse/partner who is:
    • Employed at least part-time,
    • A full-time student,
    • Considered legally disabled, or
    • Unemployed but actively seeking employment; and
  • Have a total household gross income of less than $150,000 per year.

*If you are uncertain of your eligibility status for this benefit, please contact your HR representative to review

Your child(ren)

  • is a legal dependent who you claim on your income tax return, and
  • is between the ages of 6 weeks through 12 years old or is an older child with a disability requiring care. If your child is age 13 or older, supporting documentation from a medical doctor is needed - please submit this documentation during the application period.

Pregnant, expecting, or adopting a child?

If you are pregnant, expecting, or adopting a child during the period covered by the award, you may apply for a partial grant for expected expenses. Expenses can only be reimbursed for services once both parents have returned to work. Please provide this information during the application period.


Only expenses related to legal child care, as defined by the IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses are eligible, which includes expenses for regulated and informal care.

Please be aware that by applying for the Grant, you are certifying that your expenses are accurately estimated and eligible under the legal child care definitions listed below. Cornell Benefit Services and Administration reviews all applications, awards, and claims, to detect any potentially fraudulent activity. Thus, supporting documentation may be requested. Any misrepresentation of information can result in the termination of the Grant and could have adverse employment consequences.

Legal Child Care

Dependent Care FSAs can be used for care across the United States and outside of the USA.  In New York State, there are several forms of legal care, including both informal and regulated care. These include the following categories:

Informal Care

Informal care is that which is unregulated but legal, i.e., no permit is required.

Family member

You may use grant money to pay a family member to watch your child, as long as the paid family member is not also a dependent. Dependents are defined as a child under the age of 19 or an adult living in the member’s household receiving 50% of support from the member.

Your relative must claim the money they receive from the Grant as income on their IRS income return.

Non-family member

Providers are required to claim income from child care services they provide as taxable income, and be:

  • 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 child’s home (in-home care).

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. The 6+ age group is only eligible for before and after school care.

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.  Eligible expenses are only for before and after school care, not care during the school day.


In New York State, 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.

Overnight camp expenses do not qualify.

Before and After School Care 

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.

Estimating Expenses

To submit an accurate and best estimate of the cost of care; contact the child care provider(s) that you expect to use. If you are new to Cornell or are a new parent/expecting/adopting parent, you may contact Cornell Work/Life. Employees and their families that are in the Ithaca area can also contact the Child Development Council of Tompkins County for assistance.  For those outside of Ithaca, please contact Child Care resources in your area.  In all cases, your reimbursement amount is less than or equal to what you pay your provider.

** Cornell cannot act as a personal tax consultant. The contents of this page are for informational purposes only. All U.S. citizens and foreign national visitors to the U.S. are personally responsible for knowing the tax laws and how they pertain to him/her individually. For example, if a grant award is not used in the year, there is the possibility that the unused amount of the award may be taxable.