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Why You Should Let Hourly Workers Upload Their Own Childcare Providers

If you’re a parent, who would you trust more to watch your kids? Someone you know, like a family member or friend? Or, a stranger? Which is more affordable? 

These are common questions for many working parents, especially when they’re deciding how to use their employer-sponsored childcare benefits. Most often, both answers are the same: parents would rather trust their friends and family with their children… and it’s almost always more affordable. 

There are many benefits of allowing employees—especially hourly workers—to upload their own providers. Still, not all employers allow it. In this article, we’re covering three of these benefits.

An Overview: Using Employee Childcare and Dependent Care Benefits

In-Network Providers

Employees can use their care benefits, which may include Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) funds, to pay for in-network providers vetted by their benefits provider. This might include sending a child to a vetted daycare center or hiring a caretaker through an in-network care service.

“Upload Your Own Provider” or Family, Friends, and Neighbors (FFN)

Employees can also upload their own care providers. This way, they can use dependent and childcare benefits to pay friends, family, neighbors, or other caretakers who they know and trust. 

According to a study carried out by Research Connections, care provided by families, friends, or neighbors (FFN) is the most common type of childcare for working parents. The proportion of children receiving childcare from FFN ranged from 33-59%.

Although many employees prefer to use caretakers they already know, they can only do this if their benefits program allows them to upload their own care providers. 

The Benefits of the “Upload Your Own Provider” Option

Below are three key benefits of allowing hourly workers to upload their own providers.

1. It Gives Employees Options, Including a Better Backup Plan.

Which is better? In-network childcare or providers uploaded by your employee? 

Really, it depends on the employee. If your employee recently moved away from family to take the job with your company, then they might prefer to use vetted in-network choices while they build their network. If your employee has a trusted care network, then for many reasons, they’ll want to use it. 

On the other hand, if your employee’s regular care plan is a family member who fell ill,  they may prefer an in-network provider as their backup childcare.

Ultimately, care benefits are most successful when employees have options that fit their specific needs. Uploaded providers give employees another option.

2. It’s Affordable. Sometimes, In-Network Options Aren’t.

There’s no debate: dependent care, childcare, or backup care benefits are excellent for employees. But what happens when it’s not nearly enough to cover the costs? Unfortunately, for many employees, this is often the case. 

In most states, traditional childcare options are so expensive that hourly employee benefits barely make a dent in the total cost. 

To cope with these high costs, low-income or hourly workers rely more on family, friends, and neighbors. In their study, Research Connections found that lower-income working families use their own care providers at higher rates due to the higher cost of typical providers like childcare centers. 

These trends show that for low-income workers—who are usually paid by the hour—the ability to upload their own providers will not only be easier, but it will also be within their budget.

3. Employees can choose how much to pay uploaded providers.

With uploaded providers, employees can choose how much to pay caregivers. By giving employees more control over how much they spend on adult care or childcare, they’re more likely to be able to afford it. 

Employees Can Use Their Own Providers for All Types of Care.

Uploaded care providers can be used to help employees provide care to other members of the family, including adults who need assistance, not just children.

Employers have the ability to provide care benefits for adult dependents. For example, Dependent Care FSA funds can be used to provide adult care, elder care, or for family members 13 years or older who are incapable of self-care. 

But if the employer limits employees to in-network providers, employees may be limited in what they can actually use their benefits for. For example, adult care centers may be few-and-far in between. Or, there may not be an adult care center on the in-network list. In either case, using their benefits to help their families may become impossible.

With uploaded care providers, employees can pay friends or family who they trust to provide home care to their family members. Most importantly, they won’t receive family care benefits that they can’t actually use.

How to Add “Upload Your Own Provider” Features to Your Care Benefit Plan

Whether your employees can upload a care provider depends on your benefits provider’s capability and your benefits plan.

At Helpr, through employer partnerships, we help employees create care plans that fit their unique needs. This includes allowing employees to upload their own providers. 

As a global care provider, we also establish exclusive partnerships with local vetted care centers and provide counseling and resources to help employees get the most out of their care benefits. 


Want to see how it works? Request a Demo.