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Family Resources for Students and Employees

Those with children, eldercare, or other caretaking responsibilities can feel extra stretched, and sometimes isolated—but there are campus and community resources that can help! 

FamilyResources Listserv

Talking with others is a great way to discover offices and facilities on campus and age-appropriate events on- or off-campus, set up study-and-play dates, share advice, and weigh in on ways to make ESF a more family-friendly place to learn and work.

To join a virtual discussion forum comprised of other student and employee caregivers, please subscribe to the FamilyResources listserv:  email a message of “SUBSCRIBE familyresources FirstName LastName” (Please omit quotation marks, substitute your own name for those last fields, and leave the “subject” line empty).


Subscribers that later decide they would prefer a daily digest over individual posts should send to that same address ( a message of “set FamilyResources digest” (again without the quotations marks, and an empty subject line). To revert back to individual emails, the message would be “set FamilyResources mail."

Childcare, day-to-day

Encouraged by the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and Former Interim Chancellor Deborah Stanley, ESF is seeking proposals from licensed childcare providers to  provide care for the children of ESF students and employees, as well as children in the community.  

In the interim, there are referral agencies to help you find a group or home-based care near home or work:

These same agencies can help with income-based  childcare subsidies to help pay for care

Additionally, PEACE, Inc. Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) may provide eligible families (no cost!) placement in one of their programs, or a secondary referral for low- or no-cost care, as well as for other services for employees on the main campus. The HS/EHS process begins at ESF. Contact Child Care Team member Heather Engelman for a referral and the pre-application form.

Students and employees may enroll children at Upstate Medical University's Child Care Center (1.3 mi), and The Children's Learning Center at Onondaga Community College (~5mi). Both have waiting lists, but have excellent reputations so it's worth inquiring and adding your name added to those lists.


  • If you have a co-parent at UMU or OCC, your child is eligible for a higher priority tier of that waitlist.
  • Syracuse University's Early Education and Child Care Center  (including the former Bernice Wright Laboratory School) is limited to the children of their own full-time matriculated students and full-time benefits-eligible employees; if a co-parent meets these criteria, have them complete an enrollment interest form and check on the waitlist.

Anecdotally, the Early Childhood Development Program at the JCC, Rothchild Early Childhood Center at Temple Adath Yeshurun, and The Growing Place (315-446-5788; inside the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist church) are all popular centers in the University area. Jowonio School is well-recommended for pre-school ages (2-5).


  • School age-children’s school days often don’t mesh with our work and class schedules.  Please check with your child’s school for before-and-after “wrap around” care.  They may have on site options, or provide buses for off-site options run by the YWCA, YMCA, JCC, Peaceful Schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, or Community Centers.  These same facilities often have options for superintendent or teacher conference days, school breaks, and snow days.  Other school break options might include cooperative study/play dates to the MOST or recruiting a babysitter (for an individual family, or a few children that get along well together). Faculty, staff, and M/C parents should consider power differentials and grant agency restrictions when making private arrangements with student babysitters.
  • Grad Student parents interested in activating Syracuse University GSO Family ad-hoc committee (formerly the Childcare Taskforce) for specific tasks should reach out to their Internal VP. Grad students (and all others) are also invited to send questions to Heather Engelman or Executive People Office Rebecca Hoda-Kearse.

Childcare, conference travel

In early Academia, one parent was always available to stay home, and/or a grandparent was close by to assist. Today, there are a number of single parent households or households split across great distances, both members of a dual career couple may need to attend the same meeting, an infant might not take a bottle, or Grandparent may be the one who needs care in your absence. In these instances, limiting factors in determining which conferences to attend (or which partner can attend this one) might be: can I bring my child with me? How will I afford the additional expense of someone to care for them while I'm in the meeting? How can I obtain reliable child- or elder-care in my absence?

Bring child with?

If you are lucky, conference organizers have put some thought into this for you (and also have arranged a clean, comfortable convenient lactation space).  Because the lack of child care is an equity issue, organizers of NSF-sponsored conferences and workshops are encouraged to consider child-care services to ease the burden on attendees (NSF 10-032). Similarly, NIH requires those that apply for conference grants include plans to identify resources at the conference site for child or other family care to allow individuals with family care responsibilities to attend (see section IV of the funding opportunity announcement PA-10-071 ).

Unfortunately, these childcare options tend to be limited to older children, and the costs of airfare and meal costs for personal childcare providers can be prohibitive.  To help full-time, pre-tenure faculty get to those conferences with their nursing infants, there are now trial caregiver grant to offset the expense of a caregiver's air or train-fare.

Trial caregiver grants for pre-tenure faculty

Options closer to home?

Parents of school age children that travel during the school year might arrange for someone to stay with their children at their home, or for their children to stay with friends or family in their districts.

If you are looking for someone to stay in your home with your kids, to water your finicky plants, or to check on your beloved pet and administer its medications--ask the office of Financial Aid to list a position, and send an email to the familyResources listserv. Please note that it is responsibility of each individual to determine the appropriateness of each suggestion, and to check references.

Covering these costs

Pregnancy and the period with very young children pose some unique challenges that can result in  financial strain--on personal and grant-related budgets.

The Onondaga County Department of Social Services & Economic Security and the Early Childhood Alliance released information about expanded childcare assistance eligibility in fall 2023.    For information, call (315) 435-5683 or visit

The National Science Foundation announced a Career-Life Balance (CLB) Initiative in 2011, and expanded the program in late 2020 to allow for grantees to request additional funds to hire additional staff to keep a project on track during a PI or Postdoctoral fellow's family leave. In April 2022, ESF ORP launched a trial caregiver grant program to assist pre-tenure faculty with the costs of bringing their nursing infant and caregiver with them to conferences.

Trial caregiver grants for pre-tenure faculty

There are a few other funds to offset the costs of registration fees, airfare and hotel costs, so that your personal dollars can stretch further on care. Graduate students should ask their major professors if they have funds available to support the traditional participant costs (this is often written into the grants supporting the research in the first place!), and apply for "Travel Reimbursement Grants" through the Graduate Student Association. Faculty may inquire about departmental funds, and submit "Individual Development Award" applications to HR as per directions received by the UUP on-campus union representative. In past years, the Research Office and GSA have both offered "travel grants" based on level of participation at meetings, opportunities for recruitment, etc;  hopefully they will be able to offer these again in the future. Faculty may also use their "Individual Research Incentive" accounts for expenses that are not allowed under their competitive grants, but since the amount each researcher receives for this is based upon the grant income that researcher brings in, new faculty might not have enough accumulated for this purpose. 

Lactation Rooms

Per NYS Labor Law, there are dedicated spaces on campus for nursing parents to pump breastmilk:

  • 313 Baker opened on July 23, 2013. It houses a chair, counter, outlet, mirror, resource bulletin board, and a hand washing sink. This space took advantage of an "extra" janitor's closet, the in-house labor of Facilities for renovations, and the contributions of neighbor CNS for a convertible, cleanable chair. 
  • 258 Marshall opened August 18, 2023, as part of the building's full renovation and accessibility project, and like much of the building, is ADA accessible, with sink, counter and outlet at heights  functional for wheelchair users. 

Doors to both rooms should remain unlocked except when in use. Individuals do not need make reservations to nurse, pump, or clean their pumps. Individuals with access to other spaces, such as a private office or reservable conference room, may absolutely pump in those rooms.  

Other campus spaces may be arranged on a case-by-case basis.  Keyed rooms are limited to campus personnel, as manufacturing keys requires an ID card as well as a few days lead time and a deposit.  For the near future, key request forms for access to 415A Bray can be arranged through the SRM department for any lactating employee or student. 

To discuss all options confidentially:

Please note that individuals are not obligated to use these spaces to nurse. NYS Civil law protects the right to breastfeed wherever an individual has the right to be. That said, there are campus spaces where consumption of food or drink is prohibited (e.g., some laboratories and sample preparation areas) or ill-advised.

Related notes:

Campus Map -

Changing tables

There are two ADA-compliant family restrooms (i.e., large enough for a family member to accompany any person requiring assistance and with room for the individual's wheelchair or other mobility device, including an oversized stroller), each with a changing table:

  • Gateway, in the basement (north end, just around the corner from the elevator)
  • Marshall Hall, Room 113

Marshall Hall also has additional changing tables on the first floor, within the ADA accessible stall in each of the multi-user restrooms:

  • 114, designated women's restroom
  • 115, designated men's restrooms

Please note that some restrooms may be too tight for strollers;  ADA accessible restrooms/stalls (wider doors, larger turning radius, some with assistive doors) are noted in a toilet room directory.

Toilet room directory.

Family memberships to Barnes Center and Tennity Ice Pavilion

Campus personnel can arrange access to the Barnes Center for household members, including children! Locker rooms and restrooms at the Barnes Center have changing table;  kids can use Barnes’ multi-sport court, gym, and pool with their parents, as well as the Tennity Ice Pavilion on South Campus.  Adults can access the classes and other areas (fitness, climbing, Esports, etc.) at Barnes; adult and children family members can take skating lessons (additional fees apply).

Recreation Memberships

Ice Skating Lessons for age 4 and up

Museum of Science and Technology (MOST)

Check the MOST's schedule for heavily subsidized or free programs!   Events within the museum are sponsored by various community groups and businesses, and often include basic museum admission so that the middle schooler (and often, an accompanying adult and siblings) can stay and explore exhibits at their own pace.  The MOST along with TACNY offer a number of STEM challenge programs, and (for some) a number of starter kits. 

For hours and every-day rates (including  information about discounts for college students and EBT recipients, visit:  

Student Specific Supports

Pregnant and parenting students have unique time constraints;  students supporting chronically or terminally ill family members face a different set of challenges.  Students should call upon the Assistant Dean to discuss and ‘run interference’ for pregnancy and lactation accommodations, or for extended absences due to children’s  illnesses or childcare/day rehabilitation center closures.  Students that consider withdrawing (temporarily, or long-term) should also confer with the Assistant Dean so that re-enrollment goes as smoothly as possible. 

ESF Student Support

Employee Specific Information

The Employee Assistance Program can help navigate a number of questions posed by any employee:  

Pre-tenure faculty with newborns may be interested in:

Any faculty member can request guidance from the College Ombudsperson, David Newman, or UUP, while employees represented by other collective bargaining units (CSEA, CWA/GSEU, PEF, NYSCOPBA) can contact their union representatives.

Parental Leaves: