GSAS To Subsidize Some Childcare for Grad Students

Students at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will have access to subsidized child care through Care.com, which matches families to caregivers for children, seniors, and people with special needs.

The school recently announced a new program that provides all Ph.D. students free membership to the site, which normally costs $140 per year, as well as 10 days of childcare per year subsidized by Harvard.

GSAS spokesperson Ann Hall said the Graduate Student Council, GSAS’s student government, developed the idea for increased child care benefits.

“During a meeting with the GSAS dean, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) asked GSAS to investigate the possibility of providing Care.com access to students,” Hall wrote in an emailed statement. “In response to the GSC’s advocacy for student parents, GSAS is pleased to fund this new benefit.”

Blakely B. O’Connor, the Graduate Student Council’s secretary, originally had the idea to offer Care.com benefits. O’Connor, a student and a mother, had used Care.com and realized it could help other student-parents balance the responsibilities of graduate school and caring for children.

“I am pleased to see the implementation of this benefit for graduate students with children. I think it is a step in the right direction toward alleviating the financial and scheduling burdens that can be especially difficult for graduate-student parents,” she wrote in an emailed statement.

Pumpkin Float at Boston Common's Frog Pond
Children play at Boston Common's Frog Pond in October 2016.

In addition to serving on the GSC, O’Connor is a member of the Harvard GSAS Student-Parents Association. The group “advocates for increased institutional and financial support, identifies and addresses problems that are unique to international graduate student parents, and increases awareness of issues regarding housing, childcare, and community,” according to its website.

In addition to babysitters for children, GSAS students will be able to look for care options for senior citizens through the new program, and book care in their homes or in child care centers.

While the cost of membership on Care.com is free through the GSAS program, students will still have to pay small fees for using the site. According to the GSAS website, benefits will launch later this fall.

The announcement comes as some students have criticized the benefits Harvard offers them. Graduate students received a smaller-than-usual stipend increase this year, and some said they saw their healthcare costs increase after the University switched its pharmaceutical provider.

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at caroline.engelmayer@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.

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