Human Resources

Child care at UW

Securing convenient, affordable and reliable child care is a top priority for most new parents. Finding child care in Seattle can be particularly difficult and most centers, including the ones affiliated with UW, are operating at 100% capacity with long wait lists.

The University is working hard to increase access to child care centers in our broader community in addition to sustaining our centers on the Seattle campus, at Harborview Medical Center and at UW Medical Center – Northwest.

Advice for expecting parents

If you are an expectant parent or soon hope to be one, we strongly encourage you to start exploring child care centers now. Yes, even before your baby arrives! The waiting period for infant spaces (generally defined as 12 weeks to 18 months old) can average two to three years. You are reading that correctly. Your child may no longer be an infant by the time there is an infant space available at the center of your choice.

The UW has six on-site centers (one at Harborview Medical Center, one at UW Medical Center – Northwest and four on the Seattle campus) providing space for approximately 475 children of UW employees and students. Our on-site child care centers manage requests through a wait pool that has over 900 children waiting for a space to become available.

With demand for child care exceeding the space available at our on-site centers, the UW has contracted with Bright Horizons and KinderCare to provide priority access. Priority access does not guarantee placement, but it will move your application up in their wait pool as a UW priority.

If there are child care centers near your home, your partner’s workplace or another one of your children’s schools, check them out early and inquire about their average wait times and application process.

Employees can contact UW CareLink at 866-598-3978 for a free consultation and information on child care needs. Specialists can provide customized referrals that include availability confirmation. Student parents have access to the Child Care Assistance Program, a financial assistance program that can help you cover basic child care costs if you are eligible.