More Information for F-2 and J-2 Dependents
English language program/community programs
Visit your ISS office to learn what campus programs are available to dependents of international students. The Madison Friends of International Students, MFIS, and other off campus organizations offer English classes to the spouses of international students. Dependents may join social or special interest groups, i.e., gardening, hiking and nature clubs, civic organizations, etc. There are also many opportunities to volunteer in local libraries, hospitals, day care centers, animal shelters and social agencies. An excellent place to search for volunteer opportunities is the Morgridge Center For Public Service located in the Red Gym at 716 Langdon Street on campus.
Child Care and School
If you have a child age five or younger and you or your spouse cannot always personally take care of your child, then you may need to pay for qualified day care or babysitting. "Financial help may be available" through the CCTAP program that provides small grants towards your child care costs. Young children may never be left at home unsupervised. The state of Wisconsin has not set an age when most children can be left at home for brief time periods. This is because you may have a very mature 8 year old or a highly immature 11 year old. However, the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left home alone even briefly.
Also, please do not leave children under the age of 12 alone in a car without supervision-even for a minute. If Americans see that a child has been left in a car alone they may call the police fearing the child is in danger.
If your children are of school age (5 or older), you will be required to enroll them in an appropriate public or private school. Education in the United States is compulsory for all children from age 6 to 16 in Wisconsin. Although most parents choose to enroll their children in public schools; private schools, both day and boarding, are available at all levels. For children of school age, some schools provide after school care programs on a fee-paying basis.
Adapting to life in the U.S.
Prepare your spouse and children for life in the U.S. by sharing the information that you learned about the U.S. Help your family to adjust their expectations and to keep open minds when they experience cultural differences.
If English is not you and your family’s first language, prepare your spouse and children by ensuring that they begin learning some English prior to moving to the U.S. Then make arrangements for more English training after they arrive in the U.S.
Discuss issues of loneliness and other symptoms of culture shock with your family prior to and after arriving in the U.S.
Help your family develop coping strategies. Even before you leave home, try consulting with others who have studied overseas or lived abroad. This may be helpful in preparing for the initial stress of relocating. Ask your friends and colleagues about their experiences and ways they resolved initial difficulties.
Support your spouse’s interests and activities in the U.S.
Help your children by acknowledging their negative feelings about the move, help them maintain their friendships and relationships with family in both countries, and give them something to look forward to during the move (a new privilege, possession or activity). Be aware that schools at home may have focused differently on educational topics and there may be gaps in your children’s education. You can help by providing supplemental teaching for your children at home, hiring a tutor, or securing extra books or software.
Remember that family members will need your time and attention, and you will need to find a way to balance those needs with your studies.