At the end of August, the sounds of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” rang through the halls of Dudley House. Family-friendly activities and a resource fair kicked off the academic year as community members gathered for the second annual GSAS Families Brunch on Friday, August 31, 2018.
As one of the GSAS Welcomes events, the Families Brunch welcomed new students and their partners and children to the Harvard community. This event was cohosted with the GSAS Student-Parents Organization and cosponsored by the Graduate Student Council. During the brunch, students had the opportunity to connect with current student-parents as their family members made crafts, snapped photos with the Dudley House lion, and sang with a local musician. Students engaged with representatives from GSAS and University resources that support students with families, such as the pediatrics practice at Harvard University Health Services, the Office of Work/Life, and the GSAS Parental Accommodation and Financial Support program.
At the brunch, associates from Care.com spoke with students about their partnership with GSAS in providing support for student-families. Care.com allows families to search, vet, and select caregivers, including babysitters, nannies, child care centers, family day cares, camps, tutors, elder-care, and special needs providers. In October 2017, GSAS launched a new benefit for PhD students that provides free access to a Care.com membership, subsidized in-home child and backup adult care, and subsidized backup care at local child care centers—great for students in a pinch.
Since this new benefit was launched, GSAS students have utilized almost 120 days of backup care. Backup care usage peaked in May—a challenging time for student-parents who are juggling the end of the school year for their children and final exams for themselves. GSAS plans to extend the contract with Care.com, ensuring this benefit for PhD students for the next three years.
The GSAS Families Brunch and the Care.com partnership are the result of increased conversation and collaboration between the GSAS administration, the Harvard GSAS Student-Parents Organization, and the Graduate Student Council. Last year, the Student-Parents Organization conducted a survey of GSAS students to gather feedback on Harvard resources, and the group is using the results to inform their advocacy and support of students with families.
Last year, the group also hosted two events: “Living a Balanced Life at Harvard and at Home” in partnership with the Bureau of Study Counsel and a spring clothing swap that enabled families to exchange gently used children’s clothing and toys. This October, the Harvard GSAS Student-Parents Organization will host “GSAS Family Photos in the Yard.” Come take a family photo in the Yard and meet other student parents and children!
For more information
If you ever want to talk about balancing school and families, the Office of Student Services is here for you at Room B-2 in Dudley House/Lehman Hall. We have toys in the office and do a mean rendition of “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”