COMMENTARY/Claflin needs child care

Mar 28, 2022

College is really stressful. Imagine adding onto that the responsibilities of having a child. While this may not be a reality for many, all women at one time will likely have to work and arrange child care.

Child care in the U.S. is private and expensive and lots of times it can be far away from people’s homes and work. For college student parents, many may have to leave their child with loved ones, which can cause additional stress.

Colleges and universities like Claflin can alleviate this stress for both student parents and faculty by offering on-campus child care. One thing I have noticed is that Claflin University does not have any child-care services. I feel that we should have child care because it would be beneficial for teachers and students. They can be in the same area as their children and will know that their kids are in good hands. 

Since the 1970s, women in the U.S. have moved into the workforce and into higher education. Unequal responsibilities for child-rearing and lack of access to affordable child care remain barriers to women’s full employment.

As the cost of child care increases, more mothers are leaving the workforce and are vulnerable to poverty. This issue is highlighted by research, which suggests that policies that support quality and affordable child care should be considered.

Programs implemented in three states stand out as providing support for working mothers: Nebraska, North Dakota and the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C. is a great example of a city that provides a model for early childhood education. Many mothers return to work immediately following the birth of their children. Roughly 70% of all eligible 3 and 4-year-olds are now enrolled in state-supported preschool. Universal preschool has benefited children from disadvantaged families the most, offering expanded access to developmental programs and improving school readiness.

The various barriers that college student parents face are stress and the cost of child care. In most states, the average cost of child care is higher than the tuition fee at a public college. Many student parents are single parents, which makes the cost of higher education a huge barrier for them.

Student parents who try to balance parenting with school are often met with “crushing time demands'' with more than 40% of these student parents working full time or more, and over half spending 30 hours per week on care-giving activities. Student parents find it hard to balance their parenting and school responsibilities. Due to the outbreak of the pandemic, many educational institutions started to close and transition to remote learning. This has placed many students under tremendous stress and anxiety.

McGill provides on campus child-care services to its employees and students through three main centers. Though they provided child-care services, they still have a minimum space for kids. As the proposed new childcare center would not meet the demand of those in the McGill community, a more robust service offering is needed in the long term to ensure that McGill employees can have their childcare needs met. The new McGill Centre de la petite enfance would be in the row houses on the corner of the intersection of Queen Street and the Peel Street. Currently, it has a waiting list of over 330 children. Although the SSMU daycare has 152 children on the waitlist, the CPE du Campus has further 60 more children on the waitlist.

Claflin should consider creating onsite child care. Creating this service could boost the graduation rate, help retain faculty and be a service to our community. Early childhood majors could also benefit from such a program because they would be able to gain in-person experience in their career field on campus. People who are interested in supporting this initiative should get together and examine what resources we have and approach the administration with the goal of establishing this resource, which would benefit the school, our students, our faculty and the community. 

 Jaia Skye Talton is a sophomore accounting major.

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