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Campus Life + Health & Wellness

Help When Needed: Family Resources Office and Children’s Center

Free referral services for child care, vacation programs, summer camps, more

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This is part two in a series about Boston University services available to faculty and staff to help with work-related and personal issues.

Imagine that you’ve just arrived to start a new job at BU. Not only do you have to find a place to live, but you have to scramble to find affordable child care for your preschool age children or a good school vacation program for an older child. The process can be dismaying. But BU’s Family Resources office offers referral services for full- and part-time employees and students seeking child care, play groups, summer camps, even babysitters. And it’s free.

“There are several forms of child care to choose from,” says Kristin Gruber-Grunert, director of Family Resources and the BU Children’s Center. “Our hope is that the support we provide will make that process feel less daunting and confusing. For faculty and staff who have children, finding and securing child care is imperative for them to be able to focus on their work life at BU.”

Interested employees are first asked to read the Family Resources Referral Service Statement and complete the statement’s form. Staff members then talk to parents to learn more about their child-care needs: are they looking for someone to care for their child at home or seeking a day-care center? If a day-care center, should it be close to home or close to work? Are they looking for full- or part-time care? With these questions answered, Gruber-Grunert (CAS’98, Questrom’06) and her staff begin contacting licensed day-care centers and family day-care providers to find out if they have openings and compiling information about hours of operation, fees, and capacity.

Gruber-Grunert stresses that when sending referrals to families, the staff “are not making any recommendations, since we haven’t vetted these providers.” The information is meant to give families a starting point for their child-care search. It’s then up to them to tour facilities, check references, and find the program that best meets their needs.

Help during school and summer vacations

Child jumps into a pool during a vacation camp for children

The Family Resources office and the Department of Physical, Education, Recreation, and Dance offer summer school vacation camps for children in kindergarten through ninth grade. Programming is also available during February and April school vacations. Photo by Jeffrey Ng

Family Resources also offers information about finding a babysitter or nanny, before- and after-school care, and summer camps. And in conjunction with the Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (PERD) department, the office runs weeklong programs for children in kindergarten through third grade during February and April school vacations as well as a licensed summer camp for children entering kindergarten through fourth grade. (PERD also runs separate school vacation programs and the licensed summer camp Swimsport for third through ninth graders. All these programs are run out of FitRec, with discounts for those with FitRec family memberships.

“For many families, it’s very difficult to find quality programs for their children to attend during the school vacation weeks in February and April and the summer months,” Gruber-Grunert says. “The programs we offer allow BU faculty and staff to continue their work during these vacation weeks while their children are close by and well cared for.”

Resources for employees thinking about starting a family

For any employee considering adoption, Family Resources offers online resource materials with information on how to adopt and on coping with adoption. Staff will meet one-on-one with employees interested in adopting and can direct them to the best places to help support them through the process.

Family Resources also runs the BU New Parents Program, an informal gathering for expectant and adoptive parents or anyone thinking about starting a family. The program addresses the professional and personal concerns that come with having a baby or adopting: parental leave, postpartum depression, breast-feeding, child care support, and other issues. Sessions are typically held once each semester, with speakers from Human Resources, the Faculty & Staff Assistance office, Boston Medical Center, and Family Resources. Gruber-Grunert helped organize a session for graduate students considering having a child. Among the topics discussed were PhD student benefits, health insurance coverage, and University family support for students.

BU Children’s Center

Becky McGhee (SED’12, SED’16), BU Children’s Center lead teacher, with a group of three year olds. Photo by Cydney Scott

Becky McGhee (SED’12,’16), BU Children’s Center lead teacher, with a group of three year olds. Photo by Cydney Scott

Another resource available to employees of preschool age children is the Boston University Children’s Center, an early childhood education program for children ages two to five that provides an open, structured classroom where children work and play at their own pace on projects that appeal to their individual interests. The center is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Note: enrollment for the 2017–2018 school year has ended. Employees interested in enrolling a child or children for the 2018–2019 school year should call the center at 617-353-3413 to sign up for one of the parent orientation sessions being held in October. Once you have attended a session, you can sign up for a time to visit the center. After visiting, you can complete an application for enrollment.

“In a world where parents are feeling pulled in so many directions in their daily life, it can feel impossible to find a good work-life balance. They may even feel it’s an unattainable goal,” says Gruber-Grunert. “My hope is that the work we do at Family Resources and the Children’s Center provides resources and support to University community families to help them feel more balanced in their work life and personal life.”

Contact the Family Resources office at 617-353-5954 or email familyre@bu.edu. Contact the Boston University Children’s Center at 617-353-3413 or email bucci@bu.edu. To learn more about school vacation programs and summer camps for students in kindergarten through fourth grade, email familyre@bu.edu. To learn more about the Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance school vacation programs and summer camp for students in grades four through eight, contact Barbara Green-Glaz at 617-353-0686 or email bsgregl@bu.edu.

Read other stories in our “Help When Needed” series here.

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