Demand is on the rise for child care at universities statewide

Kyle Lowe/The Collegian

High unemployment numbers and dismal job prospects have prompted an increasing number of California residents to pursue higher education. Universities statewide have seen an increase in new students as well as an increase in new applications for financial aid.

More and more of these new students are parents, and often the single biggest concern of a parent attending school is child care. Concerns about whether or not their child is in the proper environment may overshadow many other issues, such as doing well on an exam.

Two child care facilities at Fresno State are designed to alleviate these concerns. The Campus Children’s Center opened in 1973, and prepares senior child development students to work with young children and families.

“We serve 42 families,” Child Care Program Associate Alma Major said. “Some are single parents, some are married.”

Child development laboratory facilities serving infants, toddlers, and preschool children are maintained for instructional purposes. Students study child behavior and development under the supervision of faculty and laboratory teaching staff.

A degree in child development provides an excellent foundation for many careers in which children and families are the focus. It is also excellent preparation for graduate study.

The CCC is located in two sites: a preschool program in the Family and Food Sciences building and an infant-toddler program in the Home Management house in the student residence section of the campus.

The CCC is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Major said. The NAEYC focuses on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children from birth through age 8.

The Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center is located in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Both opened in 1994.

Student families have priority at the EEC; those who have the greatest financial need are enrolled first.

“We serve 124 children, ages 3 months through 12 years,” Assistant Director Renee Benell said.

There are four preschool rooms, one infant room and one toddler room. School-age children are accepted during the summer months only.

Those 124 spots are in significant demand. Most students are on the waiting list for six months to a year before their children can be enrolled.

Applications are ranked according to family income, the age of the child and number of days per week that care is needed. Costs vary according to the age of the child and the number of days per week that care is provided. Infant and toddler care, which has the highest demand, can cost $134 to $672 per month.

Student-parents who are unable to afford day care may apply for assistance through the campus Financial Aid Office. Those who are eligible will receive subsidies from the state to help cover tuition at the center.

Early education can have a positive effect on a child’s development and success in school. The EEC tries to create an educational setting that is as much like the child’s home as possible; open communication and participation are more likely to occur when the school is regarded as a friendly and inviting place.

“There’s a good mix of ethnicities and backgrounds among the children,” Benell said. “Our environment is designed to be an extension of the home.”

The Huggins Center has 15 teachers and 20-25 student employees. There are three staff members in administration and three more working in the kitchen.

“We have a really nice facility here,” Benell said.

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