The University is considering expanding day care opportunities for its workers and graduate students, Yale administrators said last week.

The move drew praise from leaders of Yale’s unions and the Graduate Employees and Students Organization, who have challenged the University in recent years to enhance its day care options. The University currently subsidizes five Yale-affiliated child-care centers, but, unlike other schools, does not offer any direct child-care subsidies for Yale’s faculty, graduate students and unionized workers.

Yale Provost Susan Hockfield said her office is working on a proposal to increase the availability of sponsored child-care services in the Yale community.

“[It] will both get a more accurate estimate of the need and bring forth proposals for addressing those needs,” Hockfield said. “[Day care] is something that we’re working on very hard right now.”

Officials representing Locals 34 and 35 — Yale’s largest unions, which represent about 4,000 clerical, technical, service and maintenance employees — said they are pleased with the University’s progress in the day care issue.

“If Yale is, in fact, seriously considering or planning to settle some kind of a deal and create day care availability for employees here, we certainly would be most pleased to hear that,” Local 34 President Laura Smith said. “It would certainly [be a] wonderful victory for those of us who have fought for this for so many years.”

GESO spokeswoman Kate Clancy GRD ’07 said she is “excited” by the University’s move and said she hopes Yale offers its workers and graduate students “affordable day care.”

“Many of us get paid $16,000 a year or less, but it costs $20,000 a year to find any decent day care in the city, so parents end up going into tons of debt,” Clancy said.

Graduate School Dean Peter Salovey said in an e-mail that he continues to work with the Graduate Student Assembly — the Graduate School’s elected student representative council — on various issues relating to graduate students and their families. Salovey said the University will consider the interests of graduate students when reevaluating its child-care policies.

Yale Deputy Provost Stephanie Spangler said in addition to sponsoring five child-care centers, the University maintains a child-care coordinator to assist Yale families.

“We’re pretty sure we’re going to need to add more Yale-affiliated slots, but at the same time we’re trying to look at our whole program and see what makes sense in terms of affordability and availability,” Spangler said.

Clancy said she would like to see the University, union and GESO leaders collaborate in a joint-committee to negotiate a new child-care policy.

GESO conducted an informal survey of about 700 graduate students last summer and published its findings last September in a report on child-care at Yale. In the report, called “Baby Blue,” GESO calls on the University to offer a “comprehensive response to the challenges facing parents.”

The report says that day care is “one of the most nagging issues” graduate students face because of its limited availability and high expenses. GESO says it would like to have “drop-in day care” on campus for graduate students.

Last December, 500 GESO supporters rallied for increased child-care benefits at the Women’s Table on Cross Campus. Following the Dec. 10, 2003, rally, more than 100 female protesters were arrested for civil disobedience when they formed a woman symbol in the intersection of High and Elm Streets. The rally was the largest campus labor protest since Yale’s unions settled contracts Sept. 18, 2003, following a three-week strike.