A clenched baby bottle in one hand, school backpack in the other, hair in a bun and the smell of spit up lingering on their clothes — all are common characteristics to describe a student-parent at one point in their life. The act of juggling parental responsibilities, as well as working while obtaining a college degree can become troublesome for many student-parents.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, “Over a quarter (26%) of all undergraduate students, or 4.8 million students, are raising dependent children.”
Out of 101 responses from the Tyler Junior College student body received on a poll taken by The DrumBeat staff 15.8% of students said they are a student-parent while 47.5% of the 101 votes stated they knew a student-parent at TJC.
The need for child care assistance for students remains an issue.
“I was a single mother, I didn’t have anybody else. So I mean, I was having to work full time and take care of my kids and try to go to school. There was no possibility of child care,” TJC sophomore Kim Foster said.
The average student-parent juggles a variety of responsibilities. TJC sophomore Jaylah Wyatt discusses what an average day looks like for a student-parent.
“For example, I drop my daughter off at school, go to class, go pick her up, get home and get ready for bed. Then go to work. It becomes overwhelming, but I wouldn’t change having a child, because she’s made me stronger and more motivated,” Wyatt said.
Juggling these demands while trying to find an affordable child care facility remains difficult. Jessica Johnson, TJC freshman, discusses the struggles she faces as a student-parent.
“Struggles I have are finding a reliable sitter for my babies and weekly fees of the daycare,” Johnson said.
Good affordable child care is often one of the main issues student-parents face. After averaging five Tyler day care facilities’ price of tuition, the average weekly price for child care is $140.60 per week. Comparatively, the rate per month is $565.60 and $6787.20 yearly.
The cost of living in Tyler is often seen as cheaper in the U.S. According to bestplaces.net, the cost of living in Tyler is 82.8, meaning, “an amount below 100 means Tyler is cheaper than the U.S. average. A cost of living index above 100 means Tyler, Texas is more expensive.”
Meaning the cost of living is just below normal. The overall cost of living average includes housing, food and groceries, transportation, utilities, health care and miscellaneous expenses. If the price of child care for parents is included then this overall cost of living would significantly rise. This can create more stress for a student-parent.
“As a parent, you want your child to go to a well-respected daycare or school and be able to be comfortable while he or she attends. And you don’t get those things unless you pay what they want,” Wyatt said.
At this time, TJC does not offer a child care facility for its students on campus. However, students believe an on-campus child care facility would benefit them.
“I’d have more time to do extra work if needed; also I’ll be on time cause we’d all be headed to school,” Freshman Jessica Johnson said.
Foster discusses how knowing where her kids were while in class would be a stress reliever.
“I could, if I needed to, leave class immediately, but I also have the ability to be in class and learn at a better pace for me, because honestly, online is so difficult to pay attention to multiple things at the same time,” Foster said.
Though TJC does not offer a child care facility for its students on campus, there are a few alternatives for student-parents.
The Perkins Grant is offered to TJC students who meet specific requirements. According to Perkins Guidelines found on TJC.edu, “All Perkins participants must be full-time students majoring in an Associate of Applied Sciences degree, certificate, or health science program as listed in the Tyler Junior College course catalog.”
The Perkins Grant provides Dependent Care, which is funding provided by the grant that pays a portion of daycare fees. Each family is limited to three dependents. The weekly funding also ranges depending on the child’s age. For infants to age 1, families receive $65; for ages 1 to 2 – they can be awarded $60; for ages 2 and up to Kindergarten the limit is $50, after school care is $40.
To receive this grant, one must meet the qualifications listed on the TJC website.
In addition, for those who are not eligible for any of the following opportunities for child care assistance, the family learning center is available and is a tuition-based program for children.
According to the Family Center’s Website, “The Family Learning Center of Tyler serves as the TJC Child Development/Early Childhood Education Laboratory School for college students preparing for careers in early childhood professions.” The tuition price is based on age. It is $145/week for ages 6 weeks to 18 months; $135/week for ages 18 months to 5 years. Tuition is also locked in for two years.
There are also other opportunities outside of TJC for students.
According to the Texas Rising Star, Texas offers families child care assistance through the Child Care and Development Fund. “Eligible families of children under the age of 13 may receive child care financial assistance so that parents can work, attend school, or participate in training.” Eligibility requirements for this funding may vary. To find out more about this opportunity, visit twc.texas.gov/programs/childcare.
Another option to assist student-parents is the non-profit organization, The Child Care Services Association. This organization provides funds through a Child Care Subsidy Assistance. “Child care assistance through the counties is primarily available to income-eligible parents who are working. If you need child care to work, if your family is in crisis, or if your child is developmentally delayed or has special needs, you may also qualify for assistance. In some cases, parents attending community colleges or undergraduate schools are eligible.” For more information about Child Care Subsidy Assistance, visit childcareservices.org/families/paying-for-child-care/.