Increased Use of the Childcare Cost Support Policy by National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellows in FY 2023


Support for families at critical periods is a known reason why some researchers, especially female and underrepresented scientists, leave research careers (see these articles from Academic Medicine and FASEB). For this reason, NIH has developed and implemented family-friendly policies aimed at supporting early-career researchers. One of these policies provides up to $2,500 in childcare cost support to full-time National Research Service Award (NRSA) fellows and trainees. In 2022, we shared some preliminary data on how many NRSA fellows requested and were issued these awards. Today, we are pleased to update these data for individual fellowship awardees.

In our 2022 post, we shared childcare data for FY 2021 and part of FY 2022. The data below provides complete childcare support data for FYs 2021 through 2023.

Childcare cost support may be requested as part of a new NRSA application, a continuing application, or as an administrative supplement made during the fellowship period. Table 1 provides the total number of NRSA fellows, the number of childcare support awards received by new and continuing fellows, the percentage of fellows receiving this support, and the total value of childcare awards made for FYs 2021 through 2023. Of note:

  • The percentage of fellows that received childcare cost support rose from 5.6% in FY 2021 to 8.4% in FY 2023.
  • The total number of childcare awards rose from 231 in FY 2021 to 331 in FY 2023.
  • The total childcare support awarded rose from $577,083 in FY 2021 to $820,000 in FY 2023.

We would like to note that childcare support was approved for nearly every researcher awarded an NRSA fellowship who requested support.

Table 1: Total NRSA fellows receiving childcare cost support FY 2021 – 2023

FYTotal Awarded FellowsChildcare Support AwardsPercentage of NRSA Fellows Receiving Childcare Support (%)Awarded Dollars ($)

In our previous post, we further separated award data by fellowship grant type. Here, we are reporting data based on the pre- or postdoctoral career level. Table 2 provides data for predoctoral fellows supported on F30 and F31 awards, postdoctoral scholars supported on F32 awards, and senior fellows supported on F33 awards. Of note:

  • The number of predoctoral childcare awards rose from 101 in FY 2021 to 174 in FY 2023.
  • The number of postdoctoral childcare awards grew from 130 in FY 2021 to 157 in FY 2023.
  • Between FYs 2021 and 2023, the percentage of pre- and postdoctoral NRSA applicants receiving childcare cost awards rose by 2.2% and 7.4%, respectively.

The increase in fellows receiving childcare cost awards over this time may be due to increased awareness of this policy among fellows and institutions. 

Table 2: Award rate for pre- and postdoctoral NRSA fellows FY 2021 – 2023

FYCareer StageTotal Awarded FellowshipsChildcare Support AwardsPercentage of NRSA Fellows Receiving Childcare Support (%)Awarded Dollars ($)

We are pleased with the increasing trend seen in the number of issuances of childcare cost support since FY 2021. In their recent report, the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director Working Group on Re-Envisioning NIH-Supported Postdoctoral Training made multiple recommendations for NIH’s consideration; among them was a shared interest in providing dependent care support to NRSA fellows. Family-friendly policies, like providing childcare cost support, are intended to help reduce one of the barriers to continuing a scientific career for early-career researchers with families. We encourage you to consider how the opportunities NIH offers to researchers with families could be helpful to you (discussed in this NIH All About Grants podcast episode).

One comment

  1. I think that the $2500 support for child care is a drop in the bucket of actual cost so it might make it more trouble than it is worth to apply for the help.
    NIH should reconsider the amount for coming years. $12,000 would be a small improvement, but still not begin to cover the actual cost.

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