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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

On-site day care versus subsidy alternative

One thing that makes the UA stand out among its Pacific 10 Conference peers is its lack of on-site child care.

But some students and employees prefer the openness and options the current care voucher system affords.

The voucher system, offered through UA Life & Work Connections, provides financial assistance directly to students and employees allowing them to determine their preferred child care service, according to Caryn Jung, senior coordinator at UA Life & Work Connections.

“”Students and employees using the voucher program often indicate such funding affords them the opportunity to select child care that exceeds their original expectations,”” she added.

This program gives parents a wider array of choices for the location and scheduling of child care services and can help them find a service that fits into their parenting philosophy, according to Jung.

For employees, the Employee Child Care Voucher Program helps UA benefits-eligible employees pay for qualifying, work-related child care in Arizona, according to the UA Life & Work Connections website. For students, it helps pay for specific, school-related child care expenses and housing.

Farah Sutton, a parent and a graduate research associate at The Center for the Study of Higher Education at the College of Education, has experience with both the UA subsidy and voucher programs as well as the campus child care center at Arizona State University, where she used to attend.

“”A high quality center would be a welcomed complement to long-standing UA Life & Work Connections child care services,”” Jung said.

Although Sutton said the lack of child care at the UA was a bit surprising, she actually found the stipend that the UA offers in lieu of a child care facility to be a nice and preferable alternative.

“”As a parent, I always want to have as many child care options as possible so I can select the one that best meets the needs of my child,”” she said. “”The UA stipend enables me to afford high quality, certified programs, thus giving me more options. Just because an institution offers child care does not mean it will be a good fit, affordable, or even available due to wait-list situations.””

Although ASU has an on-site day care center, the wait list to get her child enrolled in the center was long, she said.

Not all students and employees believe that the subsidy alternative to on-site day care is sufficient, however.

Stephen Gilliland, the department head of management and organizations at the Eller College of Management, said he believes that the benefits of an on-site day care center would outweigh the costs.

“”I think (the UA students and employees) are losing out on a great opportunity to attract and retain quality faculty and staff,”” he said. “”Many enlightened organizations understand that people do have child care needs and it is difficult for people to find child care. If the UA had it, it would be a place of confidence that this place could be trusted.””

Gilliland has spoken about this issue in his social entrepreneurship class, explaining that a child care center represents a strategic “”win, win, win.””  

Lori Van Buggenum, the program director at the Women’s Resource Center, also thinks that the subsidy alternative to an on-site day care service is not enough.

“”Student-parents can face significant challenges including a lack of money, lack of support and balancing adult and student responsibilities,”” she said.

According to Van Buggenum, student-parents are three times as likely as traditional undergraduates to drop out of school. This is why she believes that a lack of acceptable child care options for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree may play a significant role in the increasing college drop-out rates of traditional undergraduate students who are also full-time parents.

“”Many colleges and universities have on campus child care centers that understand the needs of student-parents and can provide support as well as help students develop parenting skills,”” she said. “”As a world-class university, an on-campus child care center needs to be the goal that UA is working towards.””

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