Dear College Childcare “Powers that Be”: An Open Letter

Disclaimer: As a parenting student, I am incredibly grateful for the benefits I have received through the CSU system. I love the children’s center on campus and, up until recently, I didn’t know that access to childcare was so limited. This blog post is written out of my disappointment toward the many locations that don’t even bother establishing a children’s center, as well as the states that make it nearly impossible to get help.

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Why do you make it so difficult for us moms (and dads) to finish school successfully? Do you know that one of the major reasons that mothers drop out is a lack of childcare? Many times that lack isn’t because there isn’t a child care center on campus, but because YOU have chosen to put tight restrictions on subsidized care.

For example, I found out that, after 24 post-graduate units, you won’t cover my classroom hours. Why? My degree is a 30-unit program so shouldn’t that stipulation be adjusted appropriately? I think it should be a varied limit that is specific to the needs of each parenting student and not some set amount that might work for the “average” program, but not for all.

Also, the “rules” in many states are unrealistic where certain requirements like work hours exist. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) states, “Rather than assisting students with the high cost of community-based child care some states have subsidy rules that make it difficult for college students, especially, to get help.  IWPR’s analysis finds that 11 states require college students to also be employed to be eligible for child care subsidies, and 3 of those states (Arizona, Kentucky, and Washington) require parents to work at least 20 hours per week—an amount proven to diminish rates of college completion among students overall.”

What in the world? This disappoints me. Have you been a parenting college student? Why must we prove ourselves capable of wearing our bodies and minds thin alongside our time with our children? Being successful in college requires many study hours, when do you propose these parents work – especially those who are single?

And to those colleges who chose to either delay or cut funding to a children’s center – why? Shouldn’t you try your darnedest to invest in the growing population of parenting students? Do you realize that, by closing your childcare facilities OR refusing to open one all together, you are excluding a large population? Further, in limiting childcare, you are widening the gap between the success rates of white students and minorities. IWPR  asserts that, “Supports for students with children are also important for closing racial/ethnic gaps in postsecondary education:  Nearly half of all Black women in college are raising young children, and two in five Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women and one in three Latina students are mothers to dependent children.”

I urge you to place this need as a top priority when examining your budgets. I urge you to consider your entire student population and not just the traditional. Your success rates will decline and worse, your students will never be able to pull themselves out of socioeconomic difficulties, if you don’t do your part.

 

5 thoughts on “Dear College Childcare “Powers that Be”: An Open Letter

  1. Corinth says:

    Higher education, like the decision to have children, is a choice. The fact that the school provides any subsidized care is a benefit for which this individual ought to show some gratitude. My mother also earned a degree as a nontraditional student. That meant latchkey for me or tagging along to late afternoon class (which I also paid forward as a professor in my own classroom). You are getting far more than many ahead of you had: you’d do well to keep that in mind and own your own decisions.

    • Dianna says:

      Hi Corinth,

      I appreciate your comment, but I also think you should consider a broader audience than your own experience. A toddler can not be a latchkey kid and taking your baby to class is not the best option, nor encouraged by the majority. It’s great that you honored it, but your choice to do so isn’t common.

      Also, because something was worse before, and others had less, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue making progress forward. I, as a mother who uses childcare, am VERY thankful for what I have. However, I want more people to have access to it. It should not be one of the reasons that women drop out of college, but it is. Women should not have to choose being a mother OR a student, and sometimes higher education is one’s only way out of poverty. Further, many women didn’t choose to be single mothers, but were left to care for children after their spouses walked out. And that sometimes goes both ways. If you disagree, then my blog is probably not the right genre for you. Thank you.

  2. Pallas Athena says:

    The notion that students today somehow have it easier than those of the past is simply false and ignorant. Everything from child care to class availability to rules and restrictions on financial aid should be made fair and accessible so people CAN stay in college and complete. I am a professor, and my college does not allow students to bring their children to class; it is a legal issue involving insurance. The ridiculous rules and restrictions described in this article make a difficult situation for a student with children even worse, and they need to change.

    Higher education is a choice? What is the other choice–remaining uneducated? Working at McDonald’s? I’m sure Corinth would even begrudge the McDonald’s employees a living wage while blaming them for taking the job in the first place. The “I could care less about anyone receiving an education but myself’ attitude expressed above is the real problem here.

  3. Mary Lynn says:

    I so agree with you! I really wish colleges provided more daycare. There isn’t enough space or it’s not available. In my town there’s a 2 year waiting list. Things are different today. More people are earning an education so creating more daycares would be a benefit to our economy and families.

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