Goodbye, daycare

by Brenna Jean Richart | Staff Writer

Four years ago, being a student-parent at Seattle Central might have looked a lot easier than it does today. There was an on-campus daycare facility, according to dean of Student Life Lexi Evans, specifically designated for students with children. This gave student-parents a lot more freedom to attend school and know their children were safe and sound just a few floors away. Today this space is being used, says Evans, for the International Education Programs, and the daycare facility is a thing of the past. This decision wasn’t made lightly, she says, and in lieu of what was once a physical program, there are other helpful programs that make balancing student life and parental life a little bit easier.

According to Evans, in the fall of 2011 the difficult decision was made to close the on-campus daycare facility. She stated that decision was made after weighing out many different factors: the amount of student/parents who used the daycare, the amount of space the daycare took up, the amount of money that was made from the daycare, and how much money it took to keep the daycare facility up to par.

According to Renee Jackman, the Interim Director of Student Support Programs at SCCC,  “There are 1,500 parents attending Seattle Central Community College.” That is a whopping 10% of the school, as there are around 16,000 students per calendar year. Of the student-parents who attended the school, only a portion of them utilized the daycare, making the facility only beneficial to some of the 1,500 parents. While it was great for that portion of students to have this onsite environment for their kids, it was out of proportion in the grand scheme of things.

Lexi Evans stated, “If you factor in how much it costs to keep a space that is full of children clean and sanitized, take into account how much money the daycare brings into the school, who is actually benefiting from the daycare, and what other members of the school need, you cannot but conclude that the daycare was more of a burden and less of a benefit.”

Evans says the daycare space was about four or five classrooms in size – much needed space that could be utilized by many different areas of the school. The international students make up 1,800 of the student population at SCCC, not a whole lot more than student-parents, but when you think about who was using the daycare facility and who uses the space now, more International Students use the space than the parents who used the space before. International students are not more important than student-parents, and vice versa, but it is important to remember how many people are factored into the use of the space, and to consider whether there is a way to benefit both groups of students.

Today you may not see an onsite daycare for your kids to attend while you are in school, but if you dig a little deeper you will find that Seattle Central has benefits specifically made for student-parents. Jackman is the woman in charge of helping make student-parents lives a little easier, by making sure there are programs for parents. Renee Jackman, Interim Director of the Women’s Programs at SCCC tells me that for parents who qualify for it, there is a child care assistance program: money goes on the Higher One card towards licensed child care, so you can choose your daycare facility and still be reaping the benefits that the school offers.

As well as the childcare assistance program, Jackman is in charge of:

  • Parent Resource Fairs, which are held each month.
  • The Dream Keeper program, a program to help keep financially struggling students in school.
  • Women in Society, a two-credit course open to enrollment by anyone but specifically designed for parents who are looking to get the full credit status but not have the workload of three five-credit courses.
  • Disability Support Services, for people with learning disabilities.

Jackman says she is willing to help anyone with any questions or concerns. For students with children, she is trying to think of new ways to build the connections that are truly lacking in the Seattle Central Community, including ways to get the word out about resources that student/parents find useful, as well as helping build a platform for parents to meet one another.

While it is a bummer that the daycare facility had to close, SCCC has not forgotten its student-parent population in the process. There are programs underway to pave the path for student-parents, and in the meantime it is wonderful to know that people like Renee are thinking of new and unique ways to make balancing student work loads with parental duties a little easier.

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