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Pay My Childcare or Tuition? This Shouldn't Be a Decision

Financial Wellness Center for Women
December 10, 2018 Stacy Ybarra San Antonio College

Childcare shouldn’t be one of the main threats towards the reason for career breaks between college semesters. Many college students today should be studying for their final exams or preparing to work on their career goals, but instead have turned to locating the most uncostly childcare. According to Think Tank, the average cost of full-time daycare for kids up to the age of 4 has reached $9,589 a year. This is above the now average cost of in-state college tuition, which runs about $9,410. This isn’t just an 18 year old single parent, just graduated high school and facing community college alone issue. Issues now arise for women who are in their 30’s or 40’s, recently left with a 2 year old baby and just started dissertation phase of their doctoral program. This student is now left having to find a career, childcare and be emotionally sound while doing so.  

Community College administrators are striving to find diverse strategies to improve retention and completion on campus, but the true focus needs to be placed on identifying strategies against potential threats. The purpose of this blog is twofold: 1) to start the discussion of how we can share child support options in our surrounding areas and 2) to support translating how we have a shared ownership and action to help students.

Many college programs have admission deadlines while many childcare centers across the United States have wait lists. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a 2016 survey of nearly 100 campus child care centers had an average list of 82 children. This is goal-crushing to many students who have to offset the start of their academic studies. There is no “normal American family anymore”, but all families want the same thing when it comes to childcare affordable cost, high quality, and easy availability. The New America Care Report does a great job of explaining potential systemic changes to the early care and learning infrastructure. The changes include additional public and private investment in early care and learning; better training; pay and professionalization of the teaching workforce; as well as select innovative policy recommendations to help make high quality care more affordable and accessible to all families. Many of the main reasons for college dropouts is not being able to secure childcare. The Wisconsin Hope Lab states that at least 19% percent of students have one or more children. The lab focuses on completing research which reviews hunger in colleges.  The report goes on to lists programs for individuals facing housing or food-insecurity. A similar on-going discussion for additional information and support on childcare can ultimately promote college completion mindset and motivate these students to face these challenges, but not alone.

Stacy Ybarra is the Director of Student Engagement for Catch the Next, Inc and adjunct faculty at San Antonio College.