Resources for Families
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There are more than 2,000 students and scholars with families at Penn. Over 20% of the students in the graduate and professional schools live with their spouses or partners. If your family is with you here in Philadelphia, you may find that your social life revolves around your family and their activities. Some students and scholars live on campus, and this arrangement can develop into a close community of people in similar situations.
There are many things to consider when bringing your family. Below are some helpful resources to assist you in this process.
Penn’s Family Resource Center is a hub for information, resources, childcare benefits, activities and advocacy for students and post-docs with children. The Family Center provides a forum for student parents to connect and develop supportive networks, and offers a welcoming and family-friendly environment for Penn students, post-docs, caregivers, and children.
The Family Center facility includes a large common room and a family reading room complete with toys, games, books, stuffed animals and two private lactation rooms equipped with Symphony breast pumps. Children visiting the Family Center must be supervised by parents or caregivers at all times. Students and post-docs who wish to use the Family Center should first review the Family Center Guidelines and must complete our Parental Release & Consent Form.
Visit the Family Center website for more information about activities, childcare benefits, and resources for students with children.
In the US, it is common for both parents to attend school or work outside the home and enroll their young children in day-care centers or arrange for a baby sitter to look after them at home. There are several day-care centers in the University area that look after children during the day.
Become a member at Penn's Family Resource Center and take advantage of childcare benefits such as Care.com memberships and the Emergency Backup Child Care Program.
If you are looking for a child care center, make sure that it is licensed by the state, has a low staff/child ratio, and provides an environment that encourages learning and personal development. The cost for full-time day care (usually 8:00 A.M. until 5:30 or 6:00 P.M.) varies widely, but is likely to cost $200 or more per week for full-time care. Call each day care provider for current rates. Information about day-care programs in the University area is available through:
- Penn Children's Center
- Philadelphia Child Care Resources
A babysitter is someone who comes to your home to take care of your children for a limited time. The typical pay for this work varies but is likely to be approximately $10 per hour or more. If you employ a babysitter on a regular basis, it may be suitable to pay by check but otherwise it is customary to pay in cash. In choosing a babysitter, you should be sure that the person you hire is mature and responsible enough to respond to an emergency like sickness or fire. Be sure to ask for references before hiring a babysitter
It is not uncommon for international students and scholars with families to find themselves in difficult financial situations. This also happens to American students and scholars with families. There are benefits however they are ONLY available to US Citizens and permanent residents.
Administrators of public assistance programs often do not have expertise to assess eligibility based on immigration status, and may encourage you to apply for benefits. Please remember that acceptance of public assistance is a serious violation of status.
Examples of public assistance programs not available to non-immigrants include:
Accepting any public benefits could jeopardize your non-immigrant status and could result in your having great difficulty in remaining or re-entering the US.
Aid to Families with Dependent Children
Federally-funded housing programs
Free School Breakfast or Lunch programs
There are basically two types of schools in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas: public schools, which are free, and private schools, which charge a tuition fee. Some private schools have a religious affiliation. Within the school system there are three levels of education:
- Elementary School (ages 6-10)
- Middle or Junior High School (ages 11-13)
- High School (ages 14-18)
All schools in Philadelphia, except colleges and universities, are listed in the blue section of the White Pages phone book.
Philadelphia's public schools are available to any child living in the city, but the quality and accessibility vary. Students are generally required to attend the public school in their neighborhood, unless they pay tuition to attend another school. The School District of Philadelphia also includes charter and magnet schools.
To enroll a child in a public school, you need to bring the following items:
Proof of the child's age (i.e., passport)
Proof of your current address (i.e., utility bill)
Immunization records showing that your child has been inoculated for tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, German measles, diphtheria and hepatitis B
Any other useful information from your child's former school
In addition to neighborhood schools, there are also special schools called "magnet schools." Magnet schools attract students from all areas of the city, based on superior academic performance, or a special talent such as the performing arts. Students living anywhere in the city may be admitted to these schools if they pass special entrance examinations or otherwise meet the special admission requirements. Magnet schools in the public system include:
Central High School
Girls High School
Masterman School (Grades 5-12)
Girard Academic Music Program (Grades 5-12)
For information on schools outside the Philadelphia area, call the respective school districts.
For information about private schools in the Philadelphia area, consult with:
Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools
Fax: 610- 527-4332
There are two main religiously-affiliated private school systems in Philadelphia: Catholic and Quaker.
The Catholic school system (also called Diocesan) is run by an order of Roman Catholic nuns, priests or brothers whose mission is education. The standard of education in these schools is generally good to excellent, and the tuition is moderate. Students are not required to belong to the Catholic faith, but religious education may be required.
The Society of Friends (popularly known as Quakers) also has several good schools in Philadelphia that are known as “Friends schools”. In addition to meeting a high standard of education, they provide some religious teaching according to Quaker traditions. The tuition at these schools tends to be high.