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KC Wednesday: Childcare on our Campuses

by on December 12, 2012

This week’s KC Wednesday post comes to us from the Adult Learners and Students with Children Knowledge Community, and is written by Betty A Pearsall, University Director of Child Care for the City University of New York and the KC Representative for Region II.

The availability of affordable, quality child care at colleges and universities throughout the country has been an invaluable support to the academic success of student parents nation-wide. Access to child care services is not only an important factor in the student parent’s decision to attend college; it is critical factor in the retention and persistence of  the student parent.  (Gault, Miller and Thorman 2011)

A recent toolkit produced by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and the National Coalition for Campus Children’s Centers introduces the wide variety of child care services currently in existence at various colleges and universities. (Boressoff 2012) The list includes individual centers, family child care networks, child care services that include vouchers, scholarships and resource and referrals, and multiple-campus systems.

One of the systems highlighted in the brochure is the multiple site campus child care system at the City University of New York (CUNY). I would like to give an overview of the system to demonstrate how the CUNY child care centers provide support for student success.

History

In the early 1980’s the Chancellor of CUNY commissioned a University study on existing child care services at CUNY. The number of women enrolling in CUNY was increasing, a trend that began in the 1960’s, and many of the women were parents who needed affordable child care. The study revealed the threatened status of existing campus child care centers due to lack of funding and documented the continuing need for child care. As a result, the Chancellor issued a mandate for the development of on-campus child care centers serving student parents on every CUNY campus. Directors of the centers, student parents and University administrators advocated at the state and city level for funding to support the centers, resulting in a state and city legislative allocation for CUNY child care. The Chancellor’s mandate was the foundation for the development of the campus child care system in existence at the City University today.

Child Care Centers

CUNY currently provides child care on 18 campuses enrolling over 1400 children and families in centers offering quality child care in a variety of programs designed to meet the unique needs of student parents throughout the University.

All CUNY child care centers enroll preschool children ages 2.5 to 5 years; in addition seven centers also offer infant/toddler programs for children 6 months through 2.5 years; and eleven centers also offer school age programs for children ages 5 to 12 years. Every CUNY child care center is licensed by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in compliance with the NYC Health Code which provides regulations for staff qualifications, staff/child ratios, program safety, emergency procedures and facility maintenance.

Support for Student Success

CUNY child care centers provide support for student success by maintaining priority in enrollment for fulltime undergraduate student parents; providing subsidies for low-income student parents through funding from the NY State Child Care and Development Fund administered by the state Office of Children and Families; and contracting with the NYC Department of Education at eight sites for the provision of Universal PreK programs. Nine of the centers have been recipients of a Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) grant, a federal grant that supports the participation of low income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care.

Quality child care is an important factor in the achievement of the educational goals of many CUNY student parents.  The University’s child-care programs provide a broad spectrum of developmental experiences for children with a strong emphasis on parental involvement. The programs aim to improve the quality of life both for children and their families by providing an array of services that include parenting workshops, parent/teacher conferences, early intervention and prevention services, as well as health resource referrals.

CUNY child care centers also serve as resources to the CUNY community through various collaborations with academic departments and the broader New York City community. The centers serve as fieldwork sites for interns from various disciplines and as college work study sites for students receiving financial aid.   Several of the centers work with the New York City Department of Education to provide opportunities for junior high and high school students to engage in community service learning projects in the child care centers and to serve as models of high quality programs engaged in best practices of the early childhood education field.

Boressoff,T. (2012) Tools for Student Parent Success: Varieties of Campus Child Care. Washington, DC; Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Miller, K., Gault,B. & Thorman, A.(2011, March). Improving Child Care Access to Promote Postsecondary Success Among Low-Income Parents. Retrieved from http://www.iwpr.org/publicatios/pubs/improving-child-care-acces- to-promotepostsecondary-success-amonglow-income-parents

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