Students with children express day care frustration

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

Every morning before class, Laura Urban has to drive in the opposite direction of school to drop off her two-year-old daughter at day care.

SDSU does not have a full-time day care on campus, forcing students with children to look elsewhere for child care.

“I thought it was kind of disappointing that they had the degree to work in the day care, but they don’t have a day care,” said Urban, who is a sophomore early childhood development major.

What the university does offer is a program consisting of two-hour sessions, mornings and afternoons, four days a week for children from preschool to kindergarten age for $250 per semester.

The program is mainly used as a training tool for students in the early childhood education program. The children are taught by a lab instructor, student teachers and student assistants. The preschool is licensed by the state Department of Education and is accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs.

This still does not meet the needs of a working parent, said Laurie Nichols, Dean of the College of Family and Consumer Science, who coordinates SDSU’s child care program.

“What we have is a couple of partial solutions that don’t meet everybody’s needs,” Nichols said.

Nichols identified the problem as a lack of funding and finding a place to put the day care.

“It does take money,” she added. “This is not exactly an inexpensive adventure.”

Other schools in the region such as Northern Colorado University, North Dakota State University, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Minnesota-St. Paul all have full-time day care centers on campus, according to the universities’ Web sites.

Even some smaller schools have on-campus daycares. Black Hills State University and Northern State University have child care centers for their students and faculty, according to their Web sites.

When her daughter is old enough, Urban plans to enroll her in the SDSU preschool program, but said she will still have to take her to day care.

“It would only be for a couple of hours, and I would have to find another day care,” said Urban, who is originally from Presho.

SDSU does make it easier for students to pay for off-campus day care.

Undergraduate students who are taking at least six credits can apply for a grant from the South Dakota Department of Education, which pays for half of the tuition at the Brookings-based Easter Seals Child Development Center. Approximately 16 students currently receive the grant to pay for childcare at the center, said the SDSU grants coordinator Ruth Manson. There is a waiting list, so not all students who apply will get the grant, she said.

The center, which is located at the Brookings United Retirement Center campus, offers care for children between the ages of 6 weeks to 12 years. Hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Full-time care costs approximately $400 a month, but parents can drop their children off for a few hours at a time for $5 an hour per child.

Director Dawn Kane said the center’s staff will work with students to provide adequate daycare hours for their children around their class schedules.

Kane said the waiting list at the center has about 30 names on it, and the center is only able to take 18 of the students who receive the Campis grant.

Urban, who was put on the waiting list, had to take her daughter to another day care in town, and she said there were not a lot of options.

“It was frustrating knowing that there were hardly any (day cares) in town,” Urban said. “With all the students in town, you would think they had more.”

She ended up taking her daughter to a home day care.

“There are not really any big day cares in town – there is just mostly home (day cares),” Urban said.

Tami Walker, a freshman sociology major from Brookings and mother of two, said she would like a day care that is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. for children of students who also have jobs.

“I would like to see them open day care center strictly for students,” Urban added in agreement.

#1.886016:1539176746.jpg:childcare 1.jpg:Two girls play during a session in SDSU´s preschool program. The service is available only four hours a day.:Theanne Tangen