For many Central Oregon Community College students, life is a balancing act. In addition to classes, many students have other obligations such as jobs, volunteer work and–perhaps the most demanding of all– children.
Many COCC students have children who need somewhere to go while their parents are attending classes, so questions about what the college is doing to accommodate these students have been raised.
The college currently has no daycare program.
COCC does offer assistance for students with children through the Perkins Grant that students can apply for once every year to reimburse some childcare expenses.
However, according to the rules as listed in the 2010-2011 Carl Perkins Grant Childcare Reimbursement Guidelines, only students with at least $2000 in unmet need are eligible to apply.
The Perkins grant is beneficial to those who meet its guidelines, however students in need of less than $2000 are left without aid.
It is for these students that some, including the Early Childhood Education Club, would support the creation of a COCC childcare program.
According to their staff advisor, Amy Howell, the program is mainly geared towards community service and emphasis on the importance of early childhood education, but would be interested in supporting the formation of a childcare program for students.
“Our students, for a most part, are balancing a world on their shoulders,” Howell said when asked about the necessity of such a program.
“Speak up” was the advice Howell had to offer students.
“The campus is committed to honoring student voices, so the administrators will listen,” she said.
Howell advised that students should first think about what they would want this program to look like and take into consideration who would be employed to take care of the children, whether it would be located on or off campus, and how it would affect student fees.
The Oregon State University-Cascades already has a way of accommodating its students.
OSU-Cascade’s childcare program does not provide on-campus childcare however it inserts the financial information of applicants as well as their childcare bill information into a computer and then a dollar amount for reimbursement is determined.
The childcare subsidy program differs from the Perkins grant in that the reimbursement is based off the information given by individual students, not preset guidelines.
One option for COCC would be to mirror this layout. A reimbursement program rather that on-campus daycare would benefit students such as Robyn France, COCC student and mother of a five year old son, who said that she would be unable to participate in an on campus daycare center because it would be too difficult to transport her child from school to the college campus.
Any plans for a COCC childcare program are vague, but there is willingness to make it happen. Amber Gomes, former program coordinator of OSU Cascade’s former child subsidy program, was optimistic that a similar program would be successful for COCC and supported the idea of it evolving into an on campus system.
“It’s a step in the right direction…we have one thing going, and we could take it farther,” said Gomes.
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