Do Universities Support Student Parents?

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Community colleges, however, are less likely to have an on-campus child care center. Between 2007 and 2009, 32 community colleges that had previously provided on-campus child care for students ended the service altogether. But those community colleges that do provide care are more likely to serve student-parents rather than faculty or staff.

North Carolina, California and New York each have state funding policies that support child care for student-parents who attend community colleges or state schools.

In North Carolina, this state funding is provided via the North Carolina Community College Child Care Grant.

Even so, "We don't have enough money to help enough students," said Nash Community College assistant financial aid officer Priscilla Dickens.

Currently, there are no children of student-parents enrolled at the college's Betsy B. Currin Child Development Center. As a lab school that is open to the Rocky Mount community, as well as student-parents, faculty and staff, the center provides full-time day care for 42 children, ranging from six weeks to five years old. Their waiting list has over 90 hopefuls, 23 of whom are student-parents.

But Center director Lindsay Lee admitted, "A majority of the children on that waiting list probably won't get in."

Dwindling Government Aid for Student Parents

Both community colleges and public four-year colleges face the same stumbling block: funding.

Due to dire public university budget cuts and a lack of involvement by high-level administrators, on-campus child care centers are a costly need that may go unmet, Miller says.

Currently, the Department of Education has a single federal program that provides aid to low-income student-parents for campus-based child care services: the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS). But since 2001, CCAMPIS funds have plummeted from $25 million to $16 million.

Single-parent families are hit especially hard by a lack of federal funding, as on-campus child care can consume a large part of their family budget. Many child care centers have sliding scale payment programs created to match parental income.

Still, the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies estimates that a year of full-day center-based care can rival the cost of college tuitions: Four-year-old care averages over $7,100 and infant care can average over $8,900.

Scholarship In Need of Donors

When Rasheeda Phillips became pregnant at 14 years old, her family could no longer hope she would escape the cycle of teen pregnancy that had started when her grandmother became a teen mom decades earlier. In Phillips' senior year of high school, a guidance counselor encouraged her to apply to college, and find a way to fund it. Then, in 2002, she was awarded the Family Care Solutions Child Care Scholarship.

"In all honestly, if I did not get that scholarship, there is no way I could have gone to college and be successful because I could not afford child care," said Phillips, 27, who currently works in Philadelphia as an attorney at a legal services organization and is now on the board of directors for FCS.

Sherrill Mosee created the FCS Child Care Scholarship in 1998 for low-income single mothers with children under the age of five who are enrolled as full-time college students. The grant is funded via community investors: individual donors, foundations and corporations.

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