Mothers (In) Tuition

If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to raise a child while working and attending college? The astronomical cost of college tuition is a fact that college students are all too familiar with, and if you are one of the many students here at CCP with a young child of your own, it is no secret that childcare costs are equally as outrageous.

The benefit of attending community college is the reduced price of tuition in comparison to more traditional four-year colleges. It is sad to say that there are not many options for college students who are also parents, many of which have to depend on family and friends to watch their children while they attend class.

There is, however, a childcare center on campus here at CCP. The Child Development Center operated by Kiddie Academy, a nationwide preschool franchise, has been on CCP’s main since 1990. The Child Development Center, which sits alongside the Bonnell Building on N. 16th street, has accreditations from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

A popular and respected program, NAEYC provides standards for early childhood education. The exterior of the Child Development Center is a rather drab cluster of grey trailers, but once inside, your senses get flooded with everything child care-related. Friendly teachers with welcoming smiles greet you at the door, the walls are adorned with colorful handprint art and tissue paper crafts, the smell of crayons and Play-Doh fill the air, and you can hear the sounds of happy children
The Child Development Center that is located just steps away from the Bonnell Building could be a godsend for the large number of students who seek childcare for their little ones while attending class. Unfortunately, the cost of childcare is far beyond reach for most of the students who are attending CCP for the many realistic reasons that prohibit them from attending a traditional four-year college.

Even with the discounted rate of childcare tuition at the Kiddie Academy sponsored child care center on campus, full-time enrollment for an infant is still $210 a week, 28% less than the rate for parents who are not students at CCP. It didn’t come as a surprise to me when Lauren Means, the director of the Child Development Center on campus, revealed that only about 50% of the children enrolled at the center have parents attending classes at CCP. The Child Development Center does, however, accept families who are getting assistance through Child Care Information Services (CCIS), but the registration fee of $80 isn’t negotiable.

As with most child care, the daycare on campus is far beyond the financial means of most of CCP’s students. In addition to the high cost of childcare, the amount of childcare available during the times that students are in class is a major concern for parents. The childcare facility on campus operates during the “traditional” work hours of Monday through Friday, 7am-6pm. There is no other option for students who attend class in the evening, on Saturdays, or even those who may need drop off service at an as-needed basis for those inevitable last-minute babysitter cancellations.
I spoke to a student who recalled a time when their professor allowed a student to bring her newborn baby to class. It’s undeniable that there needs to be a solution to the distressing decisions students are making between attending class and providing care for their child. The stress of being a parent to young children while attending college is hard enough without having to resort to bringing their infant to class with them. It is incredibly strenuous for a student to succeed if there are more taxing issues at hand. Excessive stress and lack of resources is a recipe for disaster when it comes to success in college.

With the majority of students who have young children not benefitting from the childcare on campus, what resources are there to help assure these students will be able to reach their maximum potential? CCP offers free advice for resources regarding public benefits, housing, employment, utilities, and immigration at the Single Stop center located in the Mint Building, room M1-21. With the scarce amount of options available for students who are also parents, attending college is a challenging but often crucial path to establishing a prosperous future for their family. As a community, let’s urge each other to work together and form new resources to ensure that everyone has the necessities to pursue their dreams.

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