Every year one million women under the age of 20 become pregnant. There are anywhere between 500 to 1,000 single mothers attending classes on this campus alone, according to the Tyler Junior College Institutional Research Office. For many of these women, it is a juggling act between handling a grueling class schedule, a demanding job and their caring for their children.
“Well, I depend on God. That’s what I do. I’m a part-time student with a baby. Just by the strength of God, he helps me on an every day basis,” said Shay Williams, 19, a student and mother of 11-month-old Merry.
Williams not only is a student, but also works in the Center for Student Life and Involvement office in Rogers Student Center. If a childcare program was offered here at Tyler Junior College, Williams said she would use it.
There are many programs to assist students with children by helping cut the cost of daycare, but some students feel as though having childcare on campus would benefit them and put them at ease when they are not with their children.
“Childcare on campus would help me to know that he is being well taken care of. It would help to know that he is in the same facility as me and that he is learning as well,” said Sherall Daniels, TJC student and mother of 4-year-old Zain.
Even though many would appreciate and take advantage of a childcare facility on campus, it becomes a question of funding to make such a program possible. With a 5 percent tax cut being made throughout colleges in Texas, daycare services may become less of a priority at this point.
“I would like to see it maybe become a reality someday. For single moms it would be beneficial to know that their children are here on campus and being taken care of,” said Michele Knox, Perkins Grant coordinator.
While childcare on campus may not be a reality at TJC yet, there are many other alternatives for parents who are seeking care for their children while they are away. The Child Care Services Association, or CCSA, is an option for assistance.
“I spend $62 a month because of CCSA, the program through the government,” said Williams. “Because I am working and in school, they are paying for some of it and I pay for the rest.”
The CCSA provides referral services to families who are looking for childcare, and also assistance to childcare businesses. It is spread throughout the country and provides consultation for any childcare concerns.
Another form of assistance that can be found on campus is through the Carl Perkins Grant. This grant is available every semester and provides help finding childcare assistance, transportation reimbursement and book loans for parents who double as students. It is a common misconception that the Carl Perkins Grant provides childcare on campus, but it helps those who need childcare in different ways and is still very helpful to those who qualify.
The Perkins Grant is for those who are pursuing a career in proficiency under the Applied Studies or Applied health area of study. Applicants must be a full-time student, demonstrate financial need, and qualify for some sort of grant. Applications for the Carl Perkins grant will be available on April 5. Other information about the Carl Perkins grant can be found in the student handbook and also at www.tjc.edu.
The Family Learning Center located about three miles from the TJC campus offers a tuition-based program for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. It is open to the public, and those who qualify for the Carl Perkins Grant have discounted rates. The Family Learning Center partners with the Tyler Independent School District and the Literacy Council of Tyler to provide care for the children of students, TJC employees and families in the community.
“We are blessed that TJC’s administration supports the Family Learning Center and the Child Development/EarlyChildhood Program,” said Lynn Sitton, the Early Childhood and Child Development department chair.
For more information of the Family Learning Center, call (903) 593-2295.