October 20, 2006

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

Featured Image

Jennifer Humphrey adjusts the butterfly garden set for the taping of Animal Planet's ‘Backyard Habitat,’ set to air in December.
Photo by Carole Bartoo

Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: For a while, Vanderbilt offered its employees subsidized backup day care and sick-child care, available on a drop-in basis for only a nominal fee. Why did the University discontinue this employee benefit?

Answer: This program was discontinued following an assessment in mid-2004, after the service had been offered to employees for about a year.

The service was provided through a contract with a drop-in day care facility near the campus.

The cost per child, per day was $135, with Vanderbilt paying $125 and the employee making up the other $10.

In the four months from January through April 2004, 27 Vanderbilt families used the service a total of 128 times, for a total cost to the University of $16,000.

One problem was that there seemed to be no ready means to ensure that a given employee would not rely too heavily on this quite expensive benefit, thereby draining away funds that would otherwise help a broader group of employees.

Indeed, a few employees were using the service so regularly as to suggest that it had become their primary arrangement for day care; the University never intended the service for this purpose.

After reviewing employee use of the program, we decided that, at least for the time being, the money used to fund alternative day care would be much better spent on other employee benefits.

We encourage parents to care for their sick children at home; Vanderbilt allows staff to use accrued sick time for the care of an eligible family member.

— Kevin Myatt, chief human resource officer