[Parentsgroup-list] new parent needs help

Kara Swanson kswanson at fas.harvard.edu
Wed Jul 11 09:42:50 EDT 2007

Dear Rini,

Having moved to the greater Boston area several times with young 
children, I ALWAYS find daycare first, then housing.  (In fact, having 
moved 4 times in my oldest daughter's first five years, I ended up 
applying for daycare at the slightest hint that we might be moving 
somewhere -- I left application fees on the table in several cities we 
never moved to, but I ended up getting a pick of good places when we did 
move -- I recommend this strategy for transient grad student parents!)  
Daycare/preschool is usually trickier, because as you are finding out, 
most preschools fill up in the spring.  As Sebastian suggested, you can 
get a list of preschools and licensed family day cares from Harvard.  
Once you have a preschool spot, then try a rental agent for speedy help 
in finding housing.  I always had to pay a fee, but the rental market 
has softened now, and landlords may be willing to split the agent fee 
with you, or even cover it.  (That said, finding housing with an under 5 
child is always challenging in Mass, because of the lead-free law that 
restricts the number of units available to families).  Harvard can also 
give you a list of rental agents.

I advise trying family-friendly and cheaper (!) options outside 
Cambridge, that have good transport to campus -- Watertown, Newton, 
Belmont, Arlington.  Of those, Watertown probably has the best bus 
connection to Harvard Square, and I believe that someone posted to this 
list last month that Russell preschool still had spots 
(http://russellpreschool.org/factsheet.html).  I have had many friends 
who were very happy with that preschool.  On my first move to Cambridge 
with a 1 year old, I ended up in Newton, sending my daughter to a 
Montessori school in Newton Center.  If you do win the lottery (!) and 
find a spot in Harvard daycare (which can be easier with a 3 year old 
than with an infant or toddler), many locations in Somerville are 
walkable both to the daycares and to campus.  If you find any place with 
an opening, email the list and I'll bet you find someone who has some 
knowledge about it to share with you.

In Cambridge itself, if you haven't already -- try all the cooperatives 
-- they are cheaper, and tend to fill up a bit slower.  Also, check the 
MIT daycare centers.  At times, they have spots for preschoolers that 
aren't filled by MIT affiliates.

And if you end up somewhere you need to drive in a pinch, you may be 
reassured to know that it only snowed once last winter!

Good luck,


Kara W. Swanson, B.S., M.A., J.D.
Ph.D. Candidate
History of Science 
Harvard University 
Science Center 371
Cambridge, MA 02138
kswanson at fas.harvard.edu

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