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Each year, Harvard Law School welcomes new and expectant parents to its campus. The Dean of Students Office works to help students manage the varying responsibilities of academic life, pregnancy, and parenthood. We encourage students to use the Dean of Students Office as a source of support throughout their time at HLS and hope the information and FAQs provided here are useful starting points.

What type of support is common for pregnant and parenting students at HLS?

The Dean of Students Office provides a broad range of supports for pregnant students and parents. We encourage you to contact us with questions you have related to pregnancy and parenting at HLS. A combination of supports and accommodations may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Assistance with navigating course load and scheduling
  • Exam accommodations, including but not limited to breaks during exams, separate testing environment
  • Classroom accommodations (preferential classroom seating, for example)
  • Rescheduling/ deferment of exams due to the birth of a child or for medical reasons
  • In-class note-takers for absences due to birth of a child or for health reasons
  • Taping of classes for absences due to birth of a child
  • Nursing room(s) access
  • Breaks during exams to allow for pumping/nursing
  • Facilitation of connection to Harvard Couples and Families Association and Harvard University resources
  • Leave of absence for the birth of a child or for health-related concerns

Please note that accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis and determined by individual circumstances.

I am due during the semester and am worried about missing class. What options do I have?

We can audiotape classes up to two weeks following the birth of a child and/or provide note-takers for missed classes. Both the Dean of Students Office and the Office of the Registrar are available to talk with you about arranging a manageable schedule in light of academic and parenting responsibilities.

What if I am due during final exams?

The Dean of Students Office can provide you with exam accommodations as appropriate. Examples of exam accommodations for pregnant students may include:

  • Permission to take breaks during exams
  • Separate testing environment
  • Ergonomic exam equipment
  • Possible exam deferments

Please note that accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis and determined by individual circumstances.

What if I want to take a leave of absence from HLS following the birth of my child?

You may take a personal or medical leave of absence from HLS. Please note that except in extraordinary circumstances and as approved by the Law School’s Administrative Board, students must complete the degree requirements for the J.D. within seven years of matriculation in law school. Additionally, students should note that some jurisdictions prescribe a shorter period of time during which the J.D. must be completed. For example, New York requires that the J.D. degree be completed within five years after a student has commenced the study of law in a law school.

Students wishing to take a leave of absence should schedule an appointment with Dean Sells or Lakshmi Clark.

My baby is due during the fall/winter semester and I’d like to know what my options are to fulfill the winter term residency requirement.

The academic year consists of a fall, a winter and a spring term. Winter term is a three-week period in January each year. In order to graduate, J.D. students must complete three winter terms. LL.M. students must complete winter term during the year they spend at HLS.

1Ls: All first-year J.D. students take the Problem Solving Workshop in the winter term.

Upper-level students and LLMs: Some students enroll in HLS courses offered in the winter term and receive law school classroom credits. Other students devote the winter term to doing the research for or to writing a substantial paper under the supervision of an HLS faculty member through the Winter Writing Program.

A deferral or waiver for winter term may be considered by petition. Please note that overall residency and credit requirements must be met. Please contact Dean Sells to discuss your options.

My partner is due during my time at HLS. What sorts of supports are available to me?

Supports are available for birth parents and their partners. Supports provided to partners have included but are not limited to the following:

  • Deferment of exams
  • Assistance with navigating course load and scheduling

Please reach out to the Dean of Students Office for questions related to your particular circumstances.

What sorts of financial aid options do I have?

If you have specific questions about your unique family circumstances, including questions about childcare allowances, please contact your Financial Aid Officer at sfs@law.harvard.edu. Additional information can also be found on the Student Financial Services website. Financial aid packages of students with families include additional fixed allowances from gross income for a spouse and for each child, for health insurance for a spouse and for each child, and for a car (for students who have small children and/or a working spouse). Parenting students who have a working partner may also request a “reasonable” allowance for child care, the amount of which is not fixed. Additionally, students with children who work at a public-interest job after 1L year are eligible for the 2L-level SPIF grant.

I am on the student health insurance plan. What resources does Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) provide?

There are several resources provided through HUHS, including medical care related to pregnancy and childbirth:

  • Obstetricians
  • Gynecologists
  • Nurse midwives

Information can be found here.

HUHS also provides pediatric care for dependents enrolled on the student health care plan. Additional information about coverage can be found here.

How do I enroll my child as a dependent?

When having a baby or adopting a child, your child must be added to your health plan within 45 days of the date of birth or adoption/placement. The coverage and the cost will be pro-rated to the day of the event. Your child’s birth certificate or statement of birth from the hospital (for newborns), legal documentation of adoption or guardianship, or DS-2019 form for international students is required to enroll a dependent. Please visit http://hushp.harvard.edu/maternity and http://hushp.harvard.edu/student-dependents for more information and to enroll.

Are there nursing rooms on campus?

There are two private nursing rooms on campus, one in WCC B003 and one in Areeda 121. The rooms are equipped with refrigerators and a hospital grade breast pump. The rooms are available to all Harvard affiliated nursing mothers. Please complete the Nursing Room Registration form for nursing room access. The form can be returned to dos@law.harvard.edu.

Information about other nursing rooms on the Harvard campus can be found here.

Are there other students on campus that I could talk to about parenting and/or pregnancy at HLS?

Yes, the HLS Couples and Families Association (HCFLA) is a great resource. HLCFA and the Dean of Students Office hold many events throughout the year for couples and children. Please look for announcements about upcoming events.

Harvard Students’ Spouses & Partners Association (HSSPA) is a volunteer-run organization open to the spouses and partners of all Harvard students, post-docs, visiting fellows and other affiliates. HSSPA provides a way for its members to make friends, find intellectual stimulation, and feel a sense of belonging within the University.

Harvard Neighbors, a volunteer and membership organization, hosts an infant and toddler playgroup. The Infant & Toddler Playgroup invites parents with infants and toddlers (0-3 years) meet to share friendship, experiences and activities. Expectant parents are also welcome. Please contact Aileen Grunder.

The Harvard Community Child Care Bulletin Board is an online portal to share child care and other parenting information with others in the Harvard community. (You must have a Harvard ID and PIN to sign in.)

What kind of childcare is available in the Cambridge/Boston area?

 

There are several childcare options in the area. Please find useful information below.

On-campus Childcare

Six nonprofit, independent child care centers are located on our campuses – five on the Cambridge campus and one in Allston near Harvard Business School. Each center is independent, and makes its own decisions regarding enrollment and curriculum.

If you are interested in a place at one of these centers, you should visit those that interest you and apply as early as possible as places are limited. Generally, contracts run from September through July in the child care centers, although mid-year slots open occasionally.

To learn more about the on-campus child care centers:

Review contact information and rates

View the centers on a map

Off-campus Childcare

High-quality, affordable child care is in high demand in the greater Boston area. The following resources are designed to make your search a little easier:

Use Harvard’s online child care bulletin board to exchange child care information with others in our community.

To get a list of licensed family day care providers and group child care centers in your community, visit the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.

Several nonprofit agencies are members of the Massachusetts Child Care Resource and Referral Agency and can help you find child care.

Child Care Circuit serves several towns near Harvard’s campuses including Arlington, Belmont, Medford, Newton, and Watertown, as well as many others.

Community Care for Kids serves Braintree, Cohasset, Dedham, Hull, Milton, Needham, Quincy, Randolph, Wellesley, Weston, and Weymouth.

Cambridge’s Department of Human Services Program (DHSP) offers pre-school and afterschool care for children ages 2.9 through 5 years of age. Children can be placed on a waitlist beginning at one year of age. Placements are made based on availability; therefore it’s important to add your child to the waitlist as soon as possible. Please visit the DHSP website for more information.

Public School for School-aged Children

Each city or town has its own public schools for school-aged children. You must contact your local school department to inquire about its enrollment procedure. Information about Cambridge Public School District can be found here or by contacting the Family Resource Center, 617-349-6551

Please visit Harvard’s Work/Life website for additional information about childcare and parenting supports.

Private School for School-aged Children

Several private and independent school exist in the Cambridge/Boston areas. The Association of Independent Schools of New England is a useful resource to start with:

Association of Independent Schools of New England
aisne.org
600 Longwater Drive, Suite 208, Norwell
781-982-8600
info@aisne.org

What are available adoption resources?

Below is a list of local, state, and national adoption resources:

The Adoption Connection
Assists in the adoption search process; offers support meetings and workshops.

Adoptive Families Magazine
An adoptive parent support organization and publication.

Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange
Provides adoption information and referrals. It works with public and private agencies to help find permanent homes for waiting children.

National Adoption Center
Refers families to agencies in their communities for home studies. Registers approved families and waiting children with special needs.

National Adoption Foundation Loan Program
Offers programs to provide financial assistance for adoption expenses to qualified prospective parents.

The National Council for Adoption
Association of private adoption agencies and individuals interested in adoption.

North American Council on Adoptable Children
Association for adoptive parent support groups.

Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps
Provides adoption information and support.