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Report: Child-Care Barrier for OR Parents in College

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Thursday, April 15, 2021   

PORTLAND, Ore. - Oregon college students who also are parents often struggle to find affordable child care. New research details the accessibility issues facing about 42,000 student parents or guardians in the state.

Lindsey Reichlin Cruse, managing director of the student-parent success initiative at the Institute for Women's Policy Research, said Oregon schools that provide campus-based care dropped from 16 a decade ago to 12 in 2019, and that was largely at community colleges where the most student parents are enrolled. She said child care is critical for some students.

"If they can't find an affordable child-care slot, on campus or otherwise," she said, "they often don't enroll or they're forced to take a break from their college journey, because it's just too much to make it work."

Reichlin Cruse said she thinks Oregon needs to increase the amount of child care available, especially in rural areas. The report noted that the state has a robust network of campus child-care centers and recommended expanding existing early-learning programs to serve student parents.

Eddie Richter, a structural engineering graduate student at Oregon State University and a parent who uses the school's child-care services, said time management is hard for every student, but particularly for folks with kids.

"You have homework deadlines and you have class schedules that come up, and sometimes a kid's sick, sometimes they wake up from naps early," he said, "and so it's nice to have day care that's available, someone to look after them so that you can focus on your schoolwork."

Kristi King coordinates OSU's "Our Little Village" child-care center. It has flexible hours so students can drop their kids off on evenings or weekends, helping fill the gap when school events or group projects happen, for instance. King said student parents aren't just completing degrees for themselves - they're also doing it for their kids.

"They know that getting an education is one way towards a path of success," she said, "earning an income that's going to put their family in a position to be successful moving forward."

Disclosure: Institute For Women's Policy Research contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Livable Wages/Working Families, Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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