Lane’s student parents say they are sometimes forced to choose between leaving their children without the support they need and allowing their schoolwork to suffer.
The on-campus Child and Family Center provides care for children who are 2.5 to 5 years old. However, Lane doesn’t have a program or facilities for older children.
Child and Family Education Division Dean Cathy Lindsley recommends that students contact the Family Connections Program of Lane and Douglas County. She said that students would be guided through a process regarding available resources.
“If people are facing this issue, let’s talk about it,” Lindsley said. “Drop-in would be tough, but I’m not saying it couldn’t be done.”
Student Resource Director Jennifer McCarrick said she sometimes has difficulty juggling school and family responsibilities.
“I’ve had to adjust my schedule so I’m not spending all my time at school. My exhusband isn’t in the picture, so I’m trying to make up that extra time,” McCarrick said. “Because my daughter is 13, it makes it a little bit more challenging. There is no care for school-age children. I’d like to see that on campus.”
Child and Family Education Management Coordinator Sue Norton said she appreciated the challenges that these students face being highlighted.
“There are so many options in the community that fit for most families that we have not developed any on campus,” Norton said.
“Juggling everything is stressful,” student government Chief of Staff Brandi Hoskins said. “They don’t have a place here for kids to be at until parents get out of class.”
Students sometimes get lucky breaks with their class schedules, so they can spend more time with their children. However, this isn’t something they can count on, and they are sometimes forced to leave their children alone.
“Last term, I would leave, and my 10-year-old would be at home for at least a half-hour by himself, and he’d have to make sure he got out the door in time to go to the bus stop,” Hoskins said. “This term, my classes are allowing me to be at home, see him off and then get to campus.”
Hoskins and McCarrick agree that if the college provided childcare for older children, they wouldn’t be faced with so many tough choices.
“I live in Albany, so this is even harder,” Hoskins said. “My struggle is that I’m here, and my kids are at home. They are either home by themselves until I get home or they go to the Boys and Girls Club until I can pick them up.”
According to College Students with Children Need Campuses with Childcare, a 2011 report published by The Institute for Women’s Policy Research, childcare for student parents is an important factor in their ability to earn a degree.
“Childcare is one of the most effective ways that colleges and universities can help their student parents to earn a degree, yet most fail to provide on-campus care centers, much less affordable, high-quality care,” Elisa Garcia wrote.
“If people want to pursue this we can do more,” Lindsley said. “Whatever we do, it would have to be self-supporting.”
By setting an example of what it takes to succeed, Hoskins believes she is helping her children make choices that will help them be successful later on.
“I want my kids to know there’s a future out there for them. By seeing me attend school, working hard and making sacrifices, they see there are opportunities out there,” Hoskins said tearfully.
Family Connections Program of Lane and Douglas County (541)463-3954.
Child and Family Education Department, Cathy Lindsley, Division Dean (541)463-5441.