BROWN INSTITUTIONAL POLICIES
As you might have discovered, human resource and benefit policies at Brown vary according to your status as either a graduate student, postdoc research associate, or postdoc fellow. In some cases there are no clear policies in place. While we have provided some links to policies that could pertain to parents, you are encouraged to speak to someone in human resources for further information.
Both the Graduate School and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies are working with Human Resources management to better clarify existing policies or develop new policies.
OTHER CHILD CARE POLICY ISSUES
Child or Dependent Care Credit
Since postdoctoral fellows typically do not have “earned income” they usually cannot claim a tax credit for child and dependent care expenses. Those who use child or dependent care services so that they may work typically can claim a tax credit for the expenses they pay or reduce their taxable income by the amount they receive in dependent care benefits (e.g. flexible savings accounts, employer-sponsored childcare, employer-paid child care subsidy). Tax payers must, however, have earned income to claim this credit, and if married, both spouses must have earned income unless one spouse is a full-time student or is unable to care for his/herself. Stipends received by postdoctoral fellows typically do not qualify as earned income for this credit since fellowship income that is not included on a W-2 is explicitly disqualified (e.g. NRSA and similar fellowships that are intended as grants and not payment for services are not earned income). Unfortunately, this currently applies to both the credit as well as dependent care benefits, since both must pass the same earned income test. So fellows married to regular employees with access to various child or dependent care benefits will not be able to claim a tax credit.
For more information:
Publication 503 Child and Dependent Care Expenses (in particular, see the earned income test)