University announces a new program to help doctoral students pay for child care

Doctoral students with children will soon benefit from a pilot program that offers grants to pay for child care.

In an email announcement to all doctoral students, Deborah Nelson, deputy provost for graduate education, said that the program was inspired by more than a year of studying the issue and surveying graduate students. The results of this research supported a program that gives doctoral students the flexibility to arrange child care along their own schedules.

“I know first-hand that the challenges of parenting are many,” Nelson said. “It is our sincere hope that the grant pilot program will alleviate some of the financial hurdles that student parents face.”


In researching the best way to support student parents, the Office of the Provost surveyed thousands of students, and found that more than 200 have at least one child. Many said that they do not want or need full-time child care, but prefer a part-time arrangement that accommodates changing teaching schedules and allows them to research and write on a flexible schedule.

The Office of the Provost was additionally guided by the input of the university’s Student Parent Organization, who suggested child care grants for student parents.

Child care grants, which are offered by several other universities, “allow parents to tailor child care to their own needs,” Nelson said. She said she hopes that a successful pilot will allow the program to launch on an annual basis starting next fall.

Nelson plans to announce further details in the coming months about how students can access these grants during the pilot phase.

This pilot is the most recent in a series of initiatives aimed at supporting graduate students as they balance academic and familial responsibilities. Among the most popular is the Family Resource Center (FRC), a drop-in space on campus where students can engage in free play with their children and take advantage of children’s classes, family-friendly programs and support groups. It will expand to a larger location in 2014, with indoor and outdoor play areas for children.