Babies, maternity leave, etc

General Discussion for SMART Scholarship Recipients

Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby Redmath » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:43 am

I've searched the forum and haven't found good information on this. Has anyone had a baby while being a SMART scholar? Either during school or during your commitment? What kind of maternity/paternity leave options were there? Did you extend your contract? What else would you have liked to know in advance?
Redmath
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby Futurebabymomma » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:28 pm

Redmath wrote:I've searched the forum and haven't found good information on this. Has anyone had a baby while being a SMART scholar? Either during school or during your commitment? What kind of maternity/paternity leave options were there? Did you extend your contract? What else would you have liked to know in advance?


Hi! My husband and I looked into this before I started the SMART program for my graduate degree. I believe that if you have a baby during school, you’d have to do a leave of absence through your school. Depending on how your school does it, you can stay a conditional student of sorts and loans/scholarships/whatever all stay valid, even if you’re not taking classes. As for SMART, you’d have to extend the program due to delayed schooling if there was a delay. Due to the nature of SMART, I’d assume your payback period would extend too.

If you’re having a child during your service commitment, I believe you just take normal maternity leave that any other employee would take. A benefit of being a DoD employee is that most bases (and other DoD facilities) have great childcare. I’m not 100% sure if they’d expect more time to cover the maternity leave (like if you’d need to make up those days) but most maternity leaves aren’t more than a few months.

The only other scenario would be if you had a child at the time of your internship. That would be more complicated, but I think I’m extreme cases the internship can be skipped. I’d think a pregnancy is a qualifying case.
Futurebabymomma
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby AlternateOption » Tue Sep 18, 2018 3:30 pm

[quote="Futurebabymomma"]Hi! My husband and I looked into this before I started the SMART program for my graduate degree. I believe that if you have a baby during school, you’d have to do a leave of absence through your school. Depending on how your school does it, you can stay a conditional student of sorts and loans/scholarships/whatever all stay valid, even if you’re not taking classes. As for SMART, you’d have to extend the program due to delayed schooling if there was a delay. Due to the nature of SMART, I’d assume your payback period would extend too. [quote]

I think if you arranged to be a conditional student and kept receiving your SMART stipend, like you suggest, then your payback period would increase due to the delayed graduation. However, as an alternate, you could also take a leave of absence from SMART. During a leave of absence from SMART you would no longer receive your stipend, but your payback period would not change because you are effectively putting things on pause.

Also, did you look into as recruitment or retention? I would expect the rules to vary.
AlternateOption
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby Futurebabymomma » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:38 pm

AlternateOption wrote:
Futurebabymomma wrote:Hi! My husband and I looked into this before I started the SMART program for my graduate degree. I believe that if you have a baby during school, you’d have to do a leave of absence through your school. Depending on how your school does it, you can stay a conditional student of sorts and loans/scholarships/whatever all stay valid, even if you’re not taking classes. As for SMART, you’d have to extend the program due to delayed schooling if there was a delay. Due to the nature of SMART, I’d assume your payback period would extend too.

I think if you arranged to be a conditional student and kept receiving your SMART stipend, like you suggest, then your payback period would increase due to the delayed graduation. However, as an alternate, you could also take a leave of absence from SMART. During a leave of absence from SMART you would no longer receive your stipend, but your payback period would not change because you are effectively putting things on pause.

Also, did you look into as recruitment or retention? I would expect the rules to vary.



I didn’t look into taking a leave from SMART as the stipend is a significant portion of income for me personally, but that is an alternative. I don’t know the logistics of that. I also only looked as a recruitment scholar because it applied to me. My apologies for lack of additional insight!
Futurebabymomma
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby momma » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:31 am

Hey girl!

I had my first baby six days before I started my PhD program, and my second about 2 years later. I took a lighter class load that first quarter and prepared for preliminary exams. My second baby happened to arrive two weeks before Christmas, so I was able to take a couple weeks off before returning to school just because of the timing. At that point I was finished with my courses and just focused on research so that gave me some flexibility as well.

20/20 hindsight:
The school I attend has phenomenal resources for parents through their work-life wellness program, from childcare grants to breastfeeding rooms, check to see what programs your school offers asap.

Having a kiddo during the research phase was easier than during the coursework phase.

Don't let your decision to have kids in the program be swayed with the expectation of help from extended family. That was never an option for me, so I went into it knowing everything falls on me, and I think that mindset is helpful regardless. Assume food, bath time, laundry, doctors appointments, snafus, general homemaking, research and some kind of harmony with family life is on you - I went into it in beastmode, have a good attitude, and work my ass off day and night to set an example for my kids.

Also, no offense to the guys out there, guys are great, I have one and he is pretty legit, but take what they say with a grain of salt. Childbirth, breastfeeding, teething, potty training...I had a lot of male colleagues "filling me in", it was a sweet gesture but men are so dramatic with it all, they get the sniffles, think they have a cold and their entire world has to STOP, so just consider the source.

You're not going to watch tv for like three years. The only real housewives you'll know about, are like, real housewives.

Having kids in this program was the best thing that could've ever happened to me. For some people, this program is their life. Not for me. So I can have good days and can have horribly rotten days in the program, and at the end of both days I get to go home and rap out Llama Llama Red Pajama with my kids. That is the most important thing in my life, and no research I do will ever be as significant of a contribution as my role in their life.
momma
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby momma » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:36 am

I guess I should've answered your ACTUAL question - for baby #1 I took no leave, for baby #2 I took two weeks of annual leave, so I did not extend my commitment to SMART
momma
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby Redmath » Mon Sep 24, 2018 3:31 pm

Thank you for the responses!

I am not currently pregnant, but I am a recruitment scholar with two years left on my PhD (and service commitment of 2 years). I only have research left and my husband and I have talked about the possibility, especially now that I don't have teaching duties or classes. I want to make sure that I'm well informed about what would happen with SMART if we do decide to go that route.

If we would decide to try while I'm still in school, my school is incredibly supportive (as is my advisor; I have academic siblings who had a baby together last year and so I've seen first hand what our department does). The internship does make me nervous because if I was due during that time I wouldn't want to travel and if I have a baby during that time I wouldn't want to be away from my husband and try to do it all on my own, so either way it would get all mucked up.

At my sponsoring facility, I'll be the first woman in my branch. I've talked to a few of the guys who work there about maternity leave but they don't seem to have a clue. From what I gathered from a woman (in another branch but same facility) you use up your saved sick leave as maternity leave. This makes me a bit nervous as I'm not sure what would happen if I was due close to my starting date and haven't accrued much leave yet.
Redmath
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby AnotherGuest » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:44 am

Redmath wrote:Thank you for the responses!

I am not currently pregnant, but I am a recruitment scholar with two years left on my PhD (and service commitment of 2 years). I only have research left and my husband and I have talked about the possibility, especially now that I don't have teaching duties or classes. I want to make sure that I'm well informed about what would happen with SMART if we do decide to go that route.

If we would decide to try while I'm still in school, my school is incredibly supportive (as is my advisor; I have academic siblings who had a baby together last year and so I've seen first hand what our department does). The internship does make me nervous because if I was due during that time I wouldn't want to travel and if I have a baby during that time I wouldn't want to be away from my husband and try to do it all on my own, so either way it would get all mucked up.

At my sponsoring facility, I'll be the first woman in my branch. I've talked to a few of the guys who work there about maternity leave but they don't seem to have a clue. From what I gathered from a woman (in another branch but same facility) you use up your saved sick leave as maternity leave. This makes me a bit nervous as I'm not sure what would happen if I was due close to my starting date and haven't accrued much leave yet.



As a recruitment, you should have no leave since you aren't a gov employee yet... Anyways, if you are due after your starting date, I'm pretty sure there is new policy giving quite a bit of maternity leave where you don't have to use sick leave. One of my co-workers has had a child every year for the past couple of years and gets ~21 days each time as the secondary care giver.
AnotherGuest
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby momma » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:13 am

Here is the current OPM policy on maternity leave, basically it is crap, you need to have leave built up (sick or annual) or you may take leave without pay.

https://www.opm.gov/blogs/Director/parental-leave/

There is another option for you as well, a voluntary leave bank that people can donate to (if for example, they have hit the maximum amount of leave they can carry over and do not want it to go to waste) that you could request leave from

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversig ... k-program/

The HR person at your SF should have info on all of this.

Honestly, no matter what happens, as a mom you'll just handle what needs to get done and everything will be fine. I wouldn't worry about it too much, and I definitely wouldn't make life decisions based on some jackass OPM policy on what maternity leave should look like.

Worst case, live simply during your pregnancy, save your money and when the baby comes take leave without pay.
momma
 

Re: Babies, maternity leave, etc

Postby Guest1234 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:36 am

You really need to check with your SF or service. For example, the Air Force gives a lot of leave now. As of this past June, the new AFI 36-3003 was implemented.
Guest1234
 


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