One of the best discussions of the types of support needed by some students to complete their education is a February 19, 2010 opinion piece at the Olympia Newswire by Sarah Reyneveld, Vice-President of the University of Washington (UW) Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS), and Jono Hanks, Director of the Office of Government Relations for the Associated Students of University Washington (ASUW) In Op Ed: Governor’s Proposed Budget Imperils State Need Grants, Could Pushe College Education Out of the Reach of Reach Reyneveld and Hanks write about many programs, but one program that may determine whether many low-income students can go to college is the child care subsidy.
These cuts, together with complete elimination of other aid programs, including Child Care Matching Grants, Health Care Professionals, and Future Teacher Programs, paint a very bleak picture for current and future students of higher education.
The Child Care Matching Grants program has been a top priority of the Washington Student Association (WSA) for the past three years. While our state has been paying lip service to increasing degree production, they have cut the Child Care Matching Grant program which provides access to child care, the third highest barrier to degree production, for the neediest students.
With advocacy from students around the state, the WSA was able to secure $1.1 million for these grants in 2008 in the budget that passed the Legislature, later to be vetoed by the Governor. Sadly, the Governor’s budget entirely suspends what is left of the modest program of $75,000 statewide. If the program is suspended many student parents will never aspire to or have a change to complete their higher education degrees. UW graduate student Sachiko Armour confirms the importance of the program when he states: “To put it bluntly, if I were unable to receive the funds I currently get, I would not be able to afford childcare for my children, which would not permit me to attend school at this point in my life.”
The Washington Legislature has addressed the need for child care by college students in RCW 28B.135:
Washington accounts for student child care in higher education — Program established.
Grants — Eligibility — Grant period.
Program administration — Four-year institutions of higher education — Rules — Reports.
Program administration — Community and technical colleges — Rules — Reports.
As always, the problem is funding.
Valerie Topacio is reporting in the Crosscut article, Budgets Squeeze Child Care at Community Colleges
For Lisa Neumann, managing and directing the Center for Families at Edmonds Community College can feel like trying to breathe underwater.
The center hosts the Head Start, Family Life Education/Parent Cooperative Preschools programs, as well as the Early Childhood Education and Family Support services programs, serving as a model resource for early learning in Snohomish County.
But at the end of each budget year (one just closed June 30), the center is consistently in the red — despite cutting operations to the bone. And, in spite of an extraordinary effort by the college’s student government to support the center, Neumann fears this year and the following years will be no different if actions are not taken to help support the center’s budget.
EdCC’s Center for Families (CFF) is not alone in its struggle to stay afloat, especially as budget cuts flood every community and technical college in the state. According to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the overall cut to the system since the 2009-10 budget enactment totals $73.6 million. Over the last two years, the cuts have forced community and technical colleges to end or reduce many programs and services invaluable to students’ success and retention.
The state has already seen two colleges make closures. Last year, Highline Community College shut its on-site day-care program, which had served the community for 30 years, and this year, Whatcom Community College closed its Child Development Center.
State Rep. Ruth Kagi, chair of the House Early Learning and Children’s Services Committee, said, “Clearly we need to find a funding model that better supports early learning. The problem is that the reimbursement rates are just not high enough.
For a good discussion of why child care is important to students, see the journal article, Contemporary Childcare Issues Facing Colleges and Universities by Marybeth Kyle, William J. Campion, William R. Ogden; College Student Journal, Vol. 33, 1999.
In order for low-income people, particularly single mothers to have a shot at escaping poverty, they must get an education, trade or vocation. For many, affordable child care is the key determinant of whether they can advance. Alexandra Cawthorne in the 2008 report for the Center for American Progress, The Straight Facts on Women in Poverty describes the issues facing women in poverty:
What can we do?
The poverty gap between men and women is not inevitable. The gender wage gap has narrowed over the past 30 years as women have gained greater access to education, the labor market, and better paid jobs. Ending women’s poverty and providing better economic opportunities for all women will require specific policy actions to ensure that:
Women receive the pay they deserve and equal work conditions
Women have access to higher-paying jobs
Women in the workforce have affordable child and elder care, as well as access to quality flexible work and paid family leave
Women receive the support they need through expanded tax credits to help meet the costs of raising their families
Women receive the contraceptive services they need so that they can plan their families
Women receive the support and protection they need to leave violent situations while maintaining job and housing stability
The best policy solutions to address women’s poverty must combine a range of decent employment opportunities with a network of social services that support healthy families, such as quality health care, child care, and housing support. Policy objectives must also recognize the multiple barriers to economic security women face based on their race, ethnicity, immigration status, sexuality, physical ability, and health status. These approaches must promote the equal social and economic status of all women by expanding their opportunities to balance work and family life.
The community college system was designed to provide affordable access to a broad cross section of students with the goal of providing these students with the tools to improve their lives, the lives of their families and to make a positive impact on the communities where they live and work. The system of higher education is fraying in this state and something must be done. Child care is one part of the support system which allows talented and hardworking people from all walks of life to improve their lives.
Dr. Wilda says this about that ©