Guide to Childcare

Quick tips for student parents

from a friendly organizer and parent!

  • No babies yet, but maybe later? Consider applying for Medicaid/ All Kids if you get pregnant or adopt – many grad students and their children qualify, and you will generally pay less out of pocket than you would for U-SHIP (the student health insurance). See our Guide to Obamacare.
  • GSU advocacy resulted in a clearly articulated parental leave policy for grad student parents. It is not consistently enforced. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the policy if you plan to take leave, and contact your area Dean of Students or the UChicagoGrad staff if you find your library or Student Health Center privileges are discontinued (as they have been in the past). If you have further problems with leave, get in touch with GSU! In our experience, the best way to resolve this sort of grievance is through collective action.
  • Childcare can be a headache on a student budget. Bright Horizons, the University’s childcare centers, do not offer student discounts or part-time options. The UChicago Lab Schools offer a faculty discount, but there is no student discount at Lab either. Unless supported by outside income, most students use a combination of part-time nannies and sitters, friends and family, nanny shares and childcare swaps, and in-home day cares. No matter what your situation, expect to spend a good deal more than the $2000 UChicagoGrad childcare stipend (a GSU victory!) currently provides.
  • We could write a book about schools. The privatization push has hit Chicago Public Schools hard, and Hyde Park is no exception. The best source of practical tips is your fellow students – try the listhosts. Read up on the nitty-gritty at Chicago Public Fools (Google it).
  • Find your people. If you’re new to town and overwhelmed with the new academic environment, it can be a challenge to meet people and make friends. Trust us: It’s worth the time. Try your friendly neighborhood grad student union for a start! The Student Parent Group also runs Writing Groups to help student parents get to know each other (and to get us precious time to work!).  
  • Hyde Park’s parenting e-mail lists are lifesavers! Sign up for the Hyde Park Parent Support Network list even though it costs a little bit of money. The studentparents list (signup at is free and managed by UChicagoGrad. UCSPG, also a UChicago list, is the official list of the Student Parent Group.
  • The university is finally stepping up its lactation space game, with generally available spaces to be open in the Reg, Swift Hall, Booth School of Business, the Hospital, and at the Family Resource Center. Thanks, GSU!

The admin won’t admit it, but GSU pressure has been crucial in getting the support we have now for student parents. We continue to advocate for broader access to childcare, medical care, and university infrastructure. Find out more at

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