Expectant parent planning guide

Last updated: May 9, 2024

Are you planning for the addition of a new family member? This guide can help you make the most of your family planning at the University of Washington. From planning your parental leave to taking advantage of all of the benefits that are available to you as a UW employee; we’ve included them here and list only suggestions. Items with inflexible timelines are noted.

As much as 3 years in advance

If you would like to enroll your child in one of the UW children’s centers, get on the waitlist earlier than you think! You can join the waitlist at any point of your family planning journey, even if you’re still undecided. The average waitlist time is 2-4 years. Our six on-campus centers are managed by three waitlists:

If you are looking for an off-campus center, UW has partnered with KinderCare and Bright Horizons to provide eligible UW employees with discounts, priority enrollment, and/or fee waivers. Make sure to get on your preferred center’s waitlist.

Bright Horizons

  • 10% tuition discounts at select partner centers in their child care network.
  • Application fee will be credited to your first month of tuition once enrolled.


  • 10% discount at all KinderCare centers.
  • Priority access at seven centers (Bothell, Harbour Pointe, Northgate, South Seattle, Wallingford, Woodinville, Yarrow Bay).

If none of these options work for your family, the Washington Employee Assistance Program can help UW employees and their family members find childcare.

If you’re looking for more information about finding the right child care solution for your family, UW WorkLife has a toolkit to help.

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12 months before the birth or placement of a child

Learn about your leave options and what you’ll be eligible for:

Contact your HR leave specialist with any questions.

Birth parent only – Temporary pregnancy and childbirth disability leave
Used for Prenatal and postpartum medical needs, including postpartum recovery
Length of leave As prescribed by the birth parent’s healthcare provider (generally 6 to 8 weeks following birth)
Benefits maintenance UW will pay the employer portion of your benefits during parental leave months that:

  • are covered by FMLA; or
  • eligibility criteria is met under both the PFML and FMLA; or
  • you work or apply paid time off for at least 8 hours
Pay for staff, librarian, and educators Apply your accrued paid time off including sick time off

You may be eligible for PFML

You can request Shared Leave

Pay for faculty Eligible for up to 90 days of paid Faculty Sick Leave

You may be eligible for PFML

Pay for other academic personnel Varies according to collective bargaining agreement

You may be eligible for PFML

All parents – Parental bonding leave following birth, adoption or foster placement
Used for Parental bonding time following birth, adoption or foster placement

Must be taken within 1 year of birth or placement

For birth parents, comes after temporary pregnancy and childbirth disability leave

Length of leave Varies according to employment program and/or CBA
Benefits maintenance UW will pay the employer portion of your benefits during parental leave months that:

  • are covered by FMLA; or
  • eligibility criteria is met under both the PFML and FMLA; or
  • you work or apply paid time off for at least 8 hours
Pay for staff, librarian, and educators Apply your accrued paid time off (sick time off may have limits)

You may be eligible for PFML

You can request Shared Leave

Pay for faculty For non-medical parental leave: leave without pay may be requested from your department for up to one academic year at a time in 2 consecutive academic years.

You may be eligible for PFML

Pay for other academic personnel Varies according to CBA

You may be eligible for PFML

Paid Family Medical leave (PFML) can be used for up to 7 calendar days following the death of a child when an individual expected to use leave for the child’s birth or to bond with their child after birth or placement.

The University grants up to three days of bereavement time off for the death of a family member, including miscarriage or stillbirth.

If you need a pregnancy-related accommodation

The University’s pregnancy accommodation process is intended to be interactive and collaborative, relying on open communication and active participation between you and the University.

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6 months before the birth or placement of a child

If pregnant, you may qualify for a disability parking permit on campus for the six weeks leading up to your due date. Start the process early to ensure your application is processed in time.

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30 – 90 days before your leave begins

  1. Provide notice to the UW at least 30 days before your leave begins. NOTE: you can submit your leave notice with less than 30 days notice, if you became aware of the need to take leave with less than 30 days notice.
  2. Submit your application for Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML). NOTE: you must submit your leave notice with the UW before you can apply for PFML.

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Within 60 days of the arrival of your new family member

No flexibility: Within 60 days, add your new dependent to your UW health insurance in Workday. Review the Life Event: Birth or Adoption webpage for instructions and deadlines. Your new dependent’s coverage effective date if effective on the day of birth, adoption, or assuming legal obligation.

No flexibility/optional: Within 60 days, enroll in the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP). The DCAP helps you pay for child care and elder care by allowing you to set aside a portion of your wages for eligible expenses. The money you set aside isn’t taxed, so you save money on eligible expenses for services like preschool, day care, nanny fees, care for a person who is disabled, and other similar services.

Check your beneficiaries on benefits, including:

  • Life insurance and AD&D insurance with MetLife
  • UWRP and VIP with Fidelity and/or TIAA
  • Department of Retirement Systems and/or Voya
  • Health Savings Account with HealthEquity

No flexibility/optional: Update your life insurance through MetLife

  • Recalculate your life insurance to see if an adjustment is recommended. Fill out the easy-to-use life insurance calculator to find out how much additional life insurance you need.
    NOTE: The arrival of a new family member is considered a qualified life event. This allows you 60 days to adjust life insurance coverage and get the guaranteed issue coverage. You can also add the new dependent to optional coverage, if you have optional coverage of at least double what you are covering for the dependent.
  • Add dependent life insurance to your plan.
  • Employees who are on an unpaid leave of absence or are not scheduled for work for more than three consecutive pay periods will be placed on direct billing by MetLife. IMPORTANT: if you don’t pay these premiums by the established due date, you will lose your life insurance coverage. To reactivate your life insurance, you will need to provide evidence of insurability and may be denied for coverage.

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Before you return to work

  • Register for back-up care through Bright Horizons and KinderCare. Registration can take a few business days to complete, so it’s best to register in advance of needing to utilize this benefit. Each UW benefits-eligible employee receives five Bright Horizons uses and 10 KinderCare uses per calendar year.
  • Sign up for the listserv to make it easier to communicate with UW employee and student parents.
  • As a benefits-eligible employee, you have access to a free Sittercity membership through Bright Horizons; set up your account before you need it, so you’re prepared. To access Sittercity tools and resources, Visit Bright Horizons UW website and locate the “Find Sitters, Nannies, Pet Care and More” card under care programs for your family; click “use it” to access the registration page. This will bring you to UW’s Sittercity homepage, where you will create a username and password to gain access and begin to search for care solutions.
  • Find information about the rules and locations of lactation spaces and wellness rooms at UW.

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Other helpful resources

Get help paying for childcare – this website provides information about current programs and subsidies that can help you pay for childcare costs.

Nanny and au pair discounts

Through Bright Horizons, benefits-eligible UW employees and UW students can access discounted, local high-touch nanny placement services through College Nannies. Current discounts include $300 off nanny placement fees and a 10% hourly rate discount on services used. Please note, hourly rates and placement fees vary and are subject to change. To connect with College Nannies, visit the Bright Horizons UW website and click “use it” under the “Get Discounted Nanny Placement” card. This will bring you to the College Nannies website, where you submit a short inquiry form. Your local College Nannies office will make contact within 48 hours to begin the consultation process.

The Whole U has partnered with local nanny and au pair services to help UW families hire a nanny full-time or part-time, or to arrange nanny shares. Visit The Whole U discount page and search for child care discounts from the drop-down menu.

Community Resources

BrightSpark works with families, caregivers and early learning professionals, and collaborate with community partners to ensure that every child has a great start. BrightSpark offers a childcare finding service that will connect you with open spaces in child care centers that meet your family’s needs.

Emergency Ride Home

Unexpected emergencies or life events can happen, and sometimes these instances require access to emergency transportation. UW Transportation Services offers reimbursement for one-way trips, up to 60 miles. This also includes one 20-minute stop to pick up dependents, or run critical errands such as picking up a prescription.

The Emergency Ride Home reimbursement is a benefit for all Faculty/Staff and Bike Locker or House permit holders at the Seattle Campus only.

For more information on eligibility and how to submit a receipt for reimbursement, please visit the Emergency Ride Home page.

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