ASUU concerned about the future of child care

The federal grant that has allowed students with children to pay as low as $1 per hour for child-care services will run out Sept. 1.

The school plans to reapply for the grant in June, but circumstances are different this year from when the U applied and received the $300,000 grant.

“We are concerned because the grant monies have been cut by $15 million and the number of schools applying has increased by several hundred,” said Bobby Harrington, vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah.

Kris Hale, child-care coordinator, said that if the grant is not renewed, the program will have to be refined and the costs will be higher for the students, noting she is “cautiously optimistic” the grant will be renewed.

“There is no way we could afford this quality of care if we didn’t have subsidence,” said Dave Hawkins, a doctoral English student. “I hate the idea of putting my son in a cheaper, therefore less respected or less effective childcare system.”

For accounting major Jennifer Terry, not having subsidence from the grant would be life changing.

“I’m a single mom and don’t work. I wouldn’t be able to go to school,” Terry said.

Child-care problems continue, as the demand for on-campus child-care is not being met.

According to the child-care center, there is an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 families that require part-time or full-time child-care services on a daily basis. The U facilities have room to provide 500 families with care.

“There are a lot of people whose needs we are not meeting, but we are trying,” Hale said.

According to Hale, students suffer the worse. The area the U is located in has the highest child-care usage zip code in the whole state of Utah. The demand is so high many of the on-campus centers have closed their waiting list.

“As a result they charge more because more people are trying to get in…and students are at the bottom of the pecking order because they don’t have an income yet,” Hale said.

Out of the eight U child-care facilities, only the ASUU center is specifically for students and turns away 40 to 50 families each semester.

“I know it’s hard to get in, I was lucky,” said Colleen Morling, whose child attends the care center.

It is also the only center on campus or in proximity of the campus that provides part-time care, a sliding-fee scale based on income, takes infants and toddlers and has non-traditional hours.

“It provides me a place where my son can come so I can focus on school and know that he is in good care,” Terry said. “It also works with the school schedule and works great for me.”

The seven other on-campus facilities function on a normal schedule.

“All of the others provide care, but it doesn’t work for students,” Hale said. “The other centers are fiscally unable to accommodate what students really need.”

Regardless of the problems, student leaders remain positive.

“I’m optimistic about the future of childcare at the U,” Harrington said. “We have been able to bring this issue to the attention of the university administration and are encouraged by their willingness to talk about possible solutions.”

[email protected]