Childcare options for students

Ajali Abernathy, Guest Columnist

Throughout my college experience at Los Medanos College I have come across a plethora of single parents that were either struggling to pay for child care or were in need of childcare referral resources. One of the main concerns of community college parents is finding quality and affordable child care for their little ones.

Last Spring one of my classmates brought his four-year-old daughter to LMC on a regular basis. She was the sweetest, most well-behaved child I have come across in a long time. My Professor had previously made mention about bringing small children to school because of regulations. I thought to myself, “Why isn’t she with her mother or in some form of a childcare environment?”

Then I realized after a few class meetings with the small pupil and her father that he probably is a single father or doesn’t know about childcare referral programs. Everyone, including the professor, was impressed about her behavior during our class session. Just maybe she was a little genius in the making and algebra was something she enjoyed. Is it too far fetched to think she enjoyed being in a college level class environment?

The only problem I had with the small child attending the class was that she probably wanted to be around small children in her age group. I’m sure she wanted to be around her peers because, truthfully, algebra isn’t an exciting class for any 4 year old.

The professor had mentioned for the second and last time about certain regulations, especially licensing issues. I really think the little girl grew on everyone because the professor just left the situation alone after observing how well behaved she was.

It has now dawned on my consciousness that maybe my classmate didn’t know of any affordable resources he may qualify for such as Coco Kids, which is a non-profit organization throughout Contra Costa County. Coco Kids is an organization that helps fund childcare for low income to medium income families. The yearly income a family can make is up to 65,000 to 70,000 a year depending on the family size. Another childcare funding program is called Head Start. Head Start is for low-income families who are receiving SNAP, which is a nutritional supplemental food program that is offered in every county for low-income families who qualify.

There should be a better way to get the word out for parents who are currently studying at LMC about childcare funding and resources that they may qualify for. For example, when there is an emergency at LMC they send out mass text messages and every student receives them instantaneously. I think Los Medanos should send out mass text messages or emails to every student informing them about child care resources that are offered throughout Contra Costa County.

Let’s face the facts many of LMC students are parents and most of them qualify for childcare assistance. Some college students may not have families and friends to help with free or reduced child care expenses. Most students want their child or children to be professionally supervised with people they can trust.

College students are extremely stressed about childcare on top of studying for classes. Childcare has been a real issue for numerous amounts of students throughout my college experience. Believe me, students talk with each other through passing about concerns they have about life and childcare is one of them.

With the right plan and a better way for students to know about child care resources and referral programs, this would reduce at least 90% of students’ anxiety about continuing their education or going back to school in order to make a better future for their children.