Many students at Central Oregon Community College face difficulties with the expense of childcare. COCC offers little help to students with children.
COCC, currently, does not offer an off campus or on campus day care facility. Eight out of the 17 community colleges in Oregon offer some form of childcare to their students and staff, COCC is not one of those eight. With tuition rising, students may face some tough challenges with the average cost of childcare at $4,800 per year, per child.
“A family’s yearly child expense is often more than the cost of tuition at a public college,” states the Oregon employment website under the childcare division.
“As a single parent myself, childcare was the highest of my expenses while raising my child,” Said Whitney Davis, an employee at the Department of Human Services. Davis works with parents who apply for the government program to receive help with childcare expenses. “If a parent is full time in school they are not eligible for childcare, part-time in certain situations they will get benefits.” DHS provides benefits through their childcare subsidy program based on a parent’s amount of hours needed for childcare and the parent’s income.
According to the US Census, in 2008 54 percent of all women in the US are mothers. There are no specific numbers detailing the number of students that have children at COCC. The US Census, in 2009, recorded the highest number of births, over 1.2 million, occurred within the ages 25 to 29. Out of all enrolled students at COCC, 28 yrs old is average age.
“Then what am I supposed to do?” Asks Meaghan Scott, 24 yrs old, who is planning to attend a community college this fall. Scott is a single parent with a 2 year old daughter. She plans on attending school part time but worries about the costs of childcare. “You would expect a college that has predominantly older students attending to have an exceptional childcare program,” said Scott.
Childcare programs are a ghost to COCC. Childcare facilities have been offered off and on campus in the past. The off campus childcare facility was opened in 1989. The facility was maintained by the college, instructors, and parents. The center offered childcare for a dollar an hour, or for weekly rates based on hours of need. The parents were required to volunteer one hour every week as a part of the center’s low cost childcare. This isn’t much different from programs offered today by some community colleges in Oregon. Chemeketa College has merged the early childhood education program with the daycare program, as well as offering subsidies to reduce the costs. Lane Community College offers options like co-ops and allocated student fees, which bring the price of childcare to $162 for 40 hours of childcare a week.
“In 06’ and 07’ for those with financial aid, it [student fees] would help subsidize childcare. It wasn’t a lot of money. I think it was about $300 per term,” Said Gordon Price, the advisor to the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College. ASCOCC had allocated $15,000 of student fees to help students with childcare in the 2006 to 2008 academic years. The student government ended up dropping the program. “It wasn’t enough money to make an impact,” said Price.
Like the allocated student fee subsidy, childcare programs at COCC eventually ended.
COCC students do have some options for help with childcare. Diana Glenn is in charge of the Perkins grant through the college. Students can apply for the grant to help with childcare. Students can also apply for an Oregon Student Childcare Grant by going onto getcollegefunds.org. Another option for parents is getting in touch with Neighborhood Impact Childcare Resources.
“We have a database of over 450 childcare providers. We can help parents find care near the college that is affordable enough for students with a low income,” Said Bonnie Reyes who works at Neighborhood Impact. Part time students can also get in contact with the Department of Human Services for help with their childcare costs.
“It’s difficult enough to be a parent, and with college in the mix, it would be nice to get some help,” said Meaghan Scott.
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