Adoption, foster care benefits increase for Baylor faculty, staff

Photo illustration by Grace Everett

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

Beginning this month, Baylor has increased the amount of assistance an eligible faculty or staff member is able to receive for adoption.

Prior to the increase, eligible staff and faculty members could be reimbursed with up to $6,000 in adoption and foster assistance. The amount has now been raised to $10,000 for each eligible child, with a maximum of two children within a year.

The adoption assistance program was introduced at Baylor in 2017, with the hope of helping faculty and staff foster and adopt children as well as giving them paid parental leave. Faculty and staff are eligible for the benefit program if they have been on staff for 12 continuous months in a full-time position.

“In 2017, Baylor implemented expansive new policies that provide paid parental leave for staff and an adoption assistance program that helps defray expenses associated with the adoption process and affirms the choice by staff and faculty to grow their families through adoption,” the press release reads.

This increase in assistance comes a few months after the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption recognized Baylor as No. 3 among the top five U.S. education institutions for best adoption assistance.

Hank Steen, director of benefits in the office of human resources, said this program follows Baylor’s mission to help faculty and staff as they grow their families.

“This program really has helped to provide financial assistance,” Steen said. “Once they finally finalize the adoption, then we reimburse them for eligible expenses, but it’s really to help support them financially because that’s a big part of the process of adopting a child or the foster process.”

Steen said the increase this month came after seeing the utilization of the program among faculty and staff.

“Over the years, we’ve realized it’s time to increase this and bump that up,” Steen said. “So that’s where this year, beginning April 1, we increased it to $10,000, and that was a big step. It made a step with Baylor to show they’re behind this even more now.”

The office of human resources holds a seminar each semester for faculty, staff, families and whoever else is interested; as part of this event, they can hear from families who have received the assistance in the past and learn more about what adoption or fostering looks like. This semester’s seminar was held on April 27, featuring the office of human resources along with Nightlight Christian Adoptions, Arrow Child & Family Ministries and Circles of Care.

Casidy Orand, assistant vice president of employee programs, said this policy and benefit comes from her office listening to the faculty and staff to know what they need.

“We do a lot of listening and talking to faculty and staff across campus, and this policy and benefit really is an outcome of us receiving feedback from faculty and staff and taking action on that and coming up with this great benefit,” Orand said. “It is nice to see things full circle, see from the beginning of getting feedback to where we have a new policy — and even years down the road increasing that and furthering the impact this has on faculty and staff.”