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Northwestern enhances resources for graduate students with families

Increased paid leave, childcare grants and other benefits announced

EVANSTON - Northwestern University has announced significant enhancements to resources available in support of graduate students with children, including increased family leave and additional funding for childcare.

Prioritizing the needs of graduate students with children exhibits Northwestern’s ongoing commitment to fostering a family-friendly, inclusive culture for both graduate students and the University community at large. Further, these advancements highlight Northwestern’s leadership role with respect to making targeted changes to address an evolving graduate student population, now including increased numbers of female students (including mothers), fathers and single-parent families. 

“Graduate students are important and valuable members of the University community, contributing to Northwestern’s success through their many academic pursuits and accomplishments,” Provost Dan Linzer said. “We are pleased to move forward with these changes. The enhanced services build an inclusive, family-friendly campus culture not only for The Graduate School students, but the broader Northwestern community.”

Key changes include offering eligible students of all gender identities and gender expressions in The Graduate School 12 weeks of paid academic leave for childbirth and adoption and a one-year extension on academic milestones.

Effective Oct. 1, Northwestern also will offer portable childcare grants for eligible graduate students affiliated with The Graduate School. The childcare grants can be used for any licensed daycare or in-home provider. 

Those changes, and others, are the result of recommendations from The Graduate Students with Children Task Force. Led by Sarah McGill, associate vice president for strategic initiatives, and Lori Anne Henderson, director of work/life & family resources, the task force worked during the past 18 months to develop recommendations on how the University could help our graduate students find a healthy integration between scholarly endeavors and family priorities. The Northwestern Student Parent Alliance was instrumental in identifying and advancing several key issues addressed by this task force.

Other key enhancements include:

  • Enabling better access to family resources for graduate students. The Graduate School's website now features key resources accessible to students who are parents. A new work/life & family resources brochure specifically highlighting services for students with children in The Graduate School also is now available. The Office of Work/Life & Family Resources this fall will hire a dedicated staff member to guide graduate students to the resources they need.
  • Enhancing lactation spaces on the Evanston and Chicago campuses. Existing lactation rooms have been made more accessible, a central system for accessing the rooms is being put in place and all new building construction or major renovations will prioritize inclusion of lactation spaces.
  • Increased funding and flexibility for dependent care costs. The dependent care development grant award available to The Graduate School students has been increased to $750.
  • Offer access to flexible, affordable childcare. Northwestern leadership is reviewing the Task Force’s recommendation to create a drop-in space on campus where students can engage in free play with their children.

These initiatives reaffirm Northwestern’s commitment to ensuring our students are able to balance their priorities effectively and flourish as scholars, researches and engaged parents. The University is considering additional enhancements, which will further this work.

“Northwestern is committed to enhancing the experience for our graduate students who are parents, as well as supporting an inclusive, family-friendly campus culture more broadly,” said Nim Chinniah, executive vice president. “Our efforts to address the important recommendations identified in the report are continuing.”

Topics: Announcements

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