The cheapest child care available on Yale’s campus costs more than two-thirds of my pay as a graduate teacher.

I’m a graduate employee in the Political Science Department and a parent of two — a two-year-old and a two-week-old. Balancing my academic work and my family commitments is a challenge, but I love both and the challenge is worth it to me. It has been made more difficult than it needs to be, however, by the Yale administration’s decision not to cover the costs of child care. And I’ve experienced the effects of that decision every day in the two years since my daughter Alice was born.

Like my peers who don’t have children, I teach classes, grade student work, conduct research and publish papers. But the playing field isn’t even. As graduate parents, my husband and I face many challenges. But the most significant one for my family has been the lack of affordable child care near our workplace.

Instead of running its own day care at a rate its employees can afford, Yale has established affiliations with private day cares, which cost anywhere between $1,300 and $1,950 per month for full-time care. Even the cheapest option would cost over two-thirds of my monthly graduate stipend. It is simply not an option for my family.

Because we can’t afford the Yale-affiliated day cares, my daughter goes to Sunshine Preschool in Hamden. It costs $1,160 each month — still a major expense, but significantly less than Yale’s cheapest day care. But Sunshine is far from campus, where we both work. And we couldn’t afford both day care and a car without going into debt. So for the past two years, we’ve taken turns taking Alice to and from Hamden on our bikes and by bus. As a result, we weren’t able to be on campus as often and were cut off from the social and intellectual life of our department.

I’ve tried to raise my concerns with the Yale administration but have had little success. Last semester, I attended a “Dine with the Dean” event, intended as a forum in which graduate parents could share their experiences and concerns with Lynn Cooley, dean of the Graduate School. But graduate parents were just a handful of attendees, and we had just a few minutes to make our points. In what little conversation we did have, I was concerned that Cooley did not seem to be familiar with the problems that today’s graduate parents face. In response, Cooley told the News on Wednesday that I must have “misunderstood something [she] said.” (“GPSS details child care struggles,” Feb. 17) I didn’t misunderstand. I know from experience that Yale has not committed to providing the affordable child care graduate students need.

Yale has made real changes to support graduate parents in the past, but only when graduate parents have demanded them. The News story on Wednesday noted, for example, that Yale offers free health insurance to the children of graduate employees. This is a critical resource for graduate families. Just over a decade ago, the children of graduate students were not covered under Yale’s health plan. In 2003, after the Graduate Employees and Students Organization released a report detailing the conditions faced by graduate families, Yale announced it would offer free health care to dependent children. I’m grateful that previous generations of graduate employees organized around this issue — otherwise my family would not be able to afford health care right now. We must keep pushing for change, and we need the administration to recognize our union and negotiate a contract with us to ensure that we have the support we need in the future.

Cooley told the News that “providing greater child care support is extremely important so that we can attract and retain the best students, especially women, in graduate school.” I am glad to hear this and I agree entirely. Child care is essential to gender equity: Too often, women in particular are still forced to choose between a family and a career. It’s no wonder that there are fewer women at the highest levels of academia. To be a progressive employer, Yale should do more than pay lip service to diversity; it should provide the resources and support that will make diversity a reality.

Employees of an institution with a $25 billion endowment should be able to afford to have children and take care of them. Yale’s employees — including graduate employees — cannot keep the University running every day if we are not able to care for our families.

I intend to hold Cooley to her word.

Anna Jurkevics is a graduate student in the Political Science Department who will graduate in 2016. Contact her at anna.jurkevics@yale.edu .

  • concerned

    The State of Connecticut provides health insurance to parents and families through a program called Husky Health*, so if subsidized day care were a financial issue for Yale, Dean Cooley could simply shift graduate funding from health care to day care subsidies rather than duplicating existing state benefits. I think it is very interesting, however how the University early on managed to subsidize young administrative employees such as Linda Lorimer and Dorothy Robinson enabling them to start families, but did not implement policy for the graduate school and young faculty female cohort on the academic side who had been accepted to Yale by law under Title IX.
    *http://www.huskyhealth.com/hh/lib/hh/pdf/HUSKYAnnualIncomeChart.pdf

  • brometheus

    Soon you will be able to hire an AI to care for your children.

  • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

    First: I am not against subsidized day care; now, on to some crit:

    “The cheapest child care available on Yale’s campus costs more than two-thirds of my pay as a graduate teacher.”

    “My.” And what is the %-age of the combined family unit?

    “Cheapest child care available.” I think you left out the word “private.” NHPS has many options — Head Start, City magnet schools, etc., although, admittedly, a spot is not guaranteed. Do you have something against NHPS? On the private side — and, again, not fully familiar — I note, e.g., Leila Day has a sliding scale for “low income” families.

    “I’m a graduate employee in the Political Science Department and a parent of two — a two-year-old and a two-week-old.”

    No you’re not: you’re a Yale “graduate student” and, as such, you are likely fairly clever, in control of your life decisions AND you’ve been here a while (i.e., more than three years). You made a personal CHOICE to create a family (congrats!), now buck up and accept your parental responsibilities.

    “And we couldn’t afford both day care [of our choice] and a car [that we prefer] without going into debt[, which is a PERSONAL CHOICE].”

    “As a result [our day care CHOICES], we weren’t able to be on campus as often and were cut off from the social and intellectual life of our department.” I bet having a husband/children (versus remaining single) had more to do with it; welcome to life.

    “Anna Jurkevics is a graduate student in the Political Science Department who will graduate in 2016” and could have saved/earned money by dissertatin’ on time, i.e., in 2015; another PERSONAL CHOICE.

    What I really (really!) do not understand is this wave of Euro-style, soft-socialism-type demands that “other ppl” pay for one’s individual (or family) life and lifestyle choices. Really, I just don’t get it.

    Here are some GSAS choices not taken: bartending (social AND remunerative), auto repair (reasonably reliable cars can be had for a couple of months weekend bartending tips, I kid you not). Waiting for job before starting a family OR waiting for sufficient resources OR sucking it up the way most New Haven residents do (weird to think the yokels are smarter than Yalies, but common sense is not the same as “intellect,” I guess). I could go on — and, again, I support better child care at Yale — but you get the idea.

    • Anna Jurkevics

      My husband is also a graduate student, so the cost of campus daycare would cost over 1/3 of our combined income. Though we can barely afford full-time care, we did not qualify for any public programs like Head Start, which are reserved for the truly impoverished. Leila Day’s sliding scale doesn’t make it cheaper for us than Sunshine Preschool, and it is only available for children 2 years and older, which is why we didn’t choose it when we put our daughter in daycare at 1 year old. We also didn’t qualify for a scholarship when we applied to Edith Jackson daycare which is on campus. Finally, the public and magnet schools offer limited spots for care for children starting at age 3, and we are applying for a spot for our daughter for next year. Affordable options for children under 2 are extremely limited.

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        Wow: My comment inspired three different ppl (Anna, Emma and Blake) to register and make their first YDN response. But… where did they go?

        • Charlie Araujo

          Yalensis- You are a troll and will not be worth my time after I write this. Yale has billions of dollars in endowments and supposedly dedicated to finding the most intelligent and talented scholars. They should provide an affordable daycare for its graduate students.

          • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

            “You… will not be worth my time after I write this.”
            Promise?

            “You are a troll.”
            Peruse my oeuvre and you’ll see that your comment is silly.

            “[Yale] should provide an affordable daycare for its graduate students.”
            I don’t disagree (though “affordable,” like “fair,” is often in the eye of the beholder). Oh, some might argue that Yale is in and of itself “an affordable daycare for its graduate students,” that watching the little darlings, those rosy-cheeked grad skoolers, gamboling friskily about their epistemological play structures is a delight to the eye, a balm to the soul — and sufficient. But I would not cry were Yale to sweeten this particular deal; I’m just not going to march for it.

            As for Yale’s “billions”; are you as good at spending your own monies as you are other ppl’s?

    • Blake Emerson

      You are for subsidized child care but you don’t understand “Euro-style, soft-socialism type demands that ‘other ppl’ pay for one individual or family’s life and lifestyle choices.” You are either confused or disingenuous.

      I know you enjoy capitalizing PERSONAL CHOICE. But type-setting is not an argument. Child-bearing and care is something that society as a whole benefits from, because if there are no children, then there won’t be society in the future. Driving is a personal choice, but we subsidize that by building roads. Going to college is a personal choice, but we subsidize that through government loans. Buying a home is a personal choice, but we subsidize that. Ordinary activities are often subsidized, regardless of how “personal” or “chosen” they are when those activities benefit others and so should be encouraged.

      Moreover, you seem to be confusing government subsidies with private employment benefits. Yale pays a salary and benefits to its graduate students because they perform important teaching functions. Anna’s making a good argument for an additional employment benefit. What’s the problem?

      It’s not reasonable to expect graduate students to wait until they get their degrees to start a family, especially with the teaching job market as dismal as it is. So Yale should make sure their graduate students are able to start families without serious costs to their studies.

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        Hi Blake! Good on PS, stickin’ up for the homies. Regards to Mike.

        1) “I am not against subsidized child care” ≠ “You are for [same]”
        2) Yes, many “ordinary activities” are subsidized; this one is not.
        3) Yale does not pay you a “salary”; you receive a “stipend” (and GESO is not a union, btw: it is a club, and often used as such).
        4) Yes, it *is* reasonable to expect ppl to wait until they are properly situated before starting a family; a concept (if you will) also borne out by statistics in that most Yale GSASers do *not* start families.

        Most importantly, all of this financial oppression was known and agreed to in advance. And I always like readers to understand the fully, unbelievably sweet deal at GSAS:

        “Every Ph.D. student at Yale receives a full tuition fellowship of $38,700 in addition to a minimum stipend of $29,000, which can reach up to $33,700.” [Times 2, in the story under discussion.]

        -“Students accepted into the doctoral program are fully funded for five years through a combination of tuition, teaching, and fellowships”
        -“Eligibility for a sixth year of funding in the humanities and social sciences will be determined at the departmental level”
        -“The University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF), awarded to all students, is usually taken in years five or six and allows candidates to dedicate themselves exclusively to the completion of the dissertation.”

        So, paid to do what you ostensibly love, paid — with no teaching duties — just to fini the diss, and still, still not satisfied?

        [My partner asks, re:the story under discussion: Why does the mother need full-on daycare? It’s not like she’s a ‘9-to-5’er. And why is she outsourcing mothering to the lowest bidder?”

        Good questions: Highly compensated, utterly privileged, all-but-Yale-degreed Life(r)-of-Rilies, yet simply insatiable. And it’s never about “how can I serve?” it’s always about “how can ppl/institutions serve me?” Fearful of failing the Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Utility school, GESO disciples enroll in UN Declaration of Human Rights-think, where others must be compelled to provide food, shelter, education, housing, career, medical care, day care, elder care etc., etc.

        NYC parks had it right: “Dont feed the pigeons.”

        Or maybe Robert Frost: “Provide, Provide.”

    • Emily Jurkevics

      Child care is prohibitively expensive. There is a small portion of families who have unlimited choice in child care, and they happen to be quite wealthy. I disagree with your assertion that Anna and Mike chose a day care center far away from campus. She clearly states that the expensive centers near campus weren’t an option for their family.

      Also, you insinuate that Anna and Mike are somehow not taking responsibility for their choice to get married and have children in their late twenties/early thirties. Women work. That is the world we live in, and it’s quite important for our nation and the world, since their contribution is powerful. You know, being 50% of the population and all. Until some scientific breakthrough, women bear the responsibility of bearing children.

      If it isn’t an appropriate choice for women in academia to have children, as you clearly state, then I was curious about in which occupations it was an appropriate choice? I just wanted you to expand on when it was a responsible time for women to have children. From the way write, it seems that women must be rich in order to have children, or quit their jobs? I just don’t see that as an efficient way to replace ourselves as a population or continue to grow economically.

      • http://www.artspace.com/magazine/interviews_features/lists/the-10-worst-ways-to-die-in-a-hieronymous-bosch-painting-53872 Hieronymus Machine

        Emily! Good to see the fambly standin’ up for sis! Main point, re: “insinuat[ion]”*: I believe my comment re: Anna’s offspringing was “congrats!”; I am not against familializiaton; I’m against whining.

        Note: Might be tough to garner support here in N’Haven… 1%-ers so often overstate their deprivation. You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout: UPenn (w/scholarship); UVA; VA Poly (and entrepreneur); MBA VA Poly (…the industry’s foremost analyst… provides guidance to investors on valuation of firms and their financial instruments); (AOL founder… surrounded by beautiful women… chef Eva). Crying poor-mouth w/such creds really is beyond the pale, IMO. (*Now *that* is insinuation, ‘kay?)

        Other notes: “She clearly states that the expensive centers near campus weren’t an option for their family.” Yes, she stated that; what *I* stated is the correction that “centers near campus weren’t an option” that she was willing to choose/prioritize. (The diff being a coupla hundred bucks a month; remember, Anna stated she is not willing to go into debt, not even for her children).

        “Child care is prohibitively expensive.” No, it is not. Even at 1/3 the couple’s “salary,” that leaves plenty for room/board/beer (grad skool basics), even w/o any student loans (you know, what normal ppl do for grad). But better yet, Anna could’ve hired a local babysitter for much less. Does she have something against New Haven residents?

        1) “If it isn’t an appropriate choice for women in academia to have children, as you clearly state…” Please quote where I “clearly state” that. Reading comp, pls Again, we are “free to choose” (Friedman); it’s the whining that makes me cringe.

        2) If it isn’t an appropriate choice for women in academia to have children, as you clearly state, then I was curious about in which occupations it was an appropriate choice?” Wow: no preconned, pop-up agenda *there*. (It’s almost like that knee-jerk reaction one sees vis-à-vis, say, UVA’s “Jackie”; you know, where facts get re-formed to “fit the narrative?” I’m sure *you* would never jump to such conclusions though.) I support reproduction — irrespective of occupation — but I also support boot-strapping, *especially* among the over-privileged (if just to show the little ppl how it’s done /sarc jic).

        “I just wanted you to expand on when it was a responsible time for women to have children.” When she is adult enough to accept that the world does not owe (repeat: *owe*) her anything, esp. any comp. above what she agreed to (from her benefactor; Yale, in this case) at the time she made the decision to reproduce. I’ve known great parents who started families at age 20 and below, (entrusting their and their babies’ lives to G-d); I’ve known over-comped NYC IVF execs in their 40s who whine, whine, whine (and outsource mothering to doula, daycare and double-nannies); toward which end of the spectrum should one tend?

        Nothing is a given; nothing is guaranteed. Reproduction itself is a gamble (in so many ways), and we accept the risks (and rewards) when we take that gamble. Yale is a generous benefactor (You think Quinnipiac has these bennies?), but for some, it’s just never enough. I would point out that many locals (e.g., workers in HGS) who do NOT moan about “unfairness” do not have the benefit of the Upenn/Yale All-Ivy combo on their CVs. I think sis gonna do o’tay.

  • marcedward

    “The cheapest child care available on Yale’s campus costs more than two-thirds of my pay as a graduate teacher”
    You knew this when you signed the contract, now after signing you demand free stuff?
    Look, maybe you didn’t know before (how you didn’t know I cannot imagine) but graduate students are a dime a dozen. Supply and demand – for every job like yours there are at least 100 more people who’d be happy to do it for the same (or less) pay.
    You’re not a single mom, you have a husband, yet somehow you guys can’t come up with a childcare schedule? You didn’t know that getting others to do your job as a parent cost money?
    Free advice – one of you go to school and teach, the other stay home and enjoy raising your child. I raised three, there’s not enough money in the universe that I’d trade away that experience

  • Charlie Araujo

    This graduate student is not a “dime a dozen” and to be hired at Yale is a rigorous process. Since Yale spends time and effort recruiting “the brightest minds” why not help with an affordable daycare? Yale has a billion dollar endowment!