Families with Children

Some visas will allow you to bring your family with you, some will not. This section provides information and advice to families with children.

Day Care

If your children are too young for school and both parents are away during the day, you will need to enroll them in a day care center. Day care can be very expensive, with fees running to hundreds of dollars a week. When selecting a day care facility, it is important to ask whether the day care facility is licensed and monitored by the state. Visit during the day, and check whether the children are well-cared for, clean and happy. Count the number of children and the number of adult supervisors. Ask whether employees are screened for criminal records.

For temporary care during the evening, you can hire a neighborhood teenager or college student to baby-sit your children for $5 to $15 an hour. Ask your neighbors, friends, and colleagues for recommendations. You can also post an advertisement on bulletin boards on campus. The baby-sitter must be old enough and responsible enough to handle emergencies. When interviewing a baby-sitter, ask her for the names and telephone numbers of two previous clients. Call them to ask how satisfied they were with her performance. Before you leave for the evening, give the baby-sitter information on where you will be and a contact number. Also leave a list of local emergency telephone numbers, such as fire, police, ambulance, and poison control.


Children between the ages of 5 and 17 are required to attend school. Public education is available at no charge. Which public school your children may attend is determined by your home address. Call the local board of education to find out which school is closest.

The US school system is divided into three levels: Elementary School is Kindergarten (K) through grade 6, Middle School is grades 7 and 8 (sometimes called Junior High), and Secondary School is grades 9 through 12 (often called High School).

To enroll your child in the school, visit the school with your child and complete the registration forms. You must bring a birth certificate and proof of immunization against certain diseases. It is also a good idea to bring your child’s previous educational records (translated if necessary).

The city may also offer specialized programs for students with special interests, talents, or needs. For example, there may be special schools for students in the arts or students with disabilities. Special procedures must be followed for admission to these programs. Some of the programs will have a competitive entrance examination.

Mandatory English language instruction is provided to all children who are not native speakers of English.

Private schools are an alternative to the public school system. Most private schools charge tuition. Tuition can cost as much as several thousand dollars a year — sometimes as much as a college education. Private schools are often affiliated with a religious denomination or are designed for children with special needs. Many people feel that private schools offer a better quality education than the public school system. Private schools may also be safer than public schools, with less violence and drug use. A list of private schools can be found in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory.