As students matriculate, they become aware that balancing school, extracurricular activities, and maybe work can be a challenge. Add a child into the equation, and the challenge can become more difficult.
The Division of Student and University affairs recognizes these challenges, and has designed a program to help assist student parents. The Child Care Reimbursement Program was designed to assist undergraduate and graduate student parents with paying for babysitting services and day care expenses.
Applicants can apply online at Southern’s website. If the applicants meet the requirements based on financial needs and other criteria, they can become eligible. Up to $500 can be reimbursed to the families per semester by the program and up to 14 families can be reimbursed per year.
Allison Bass, an English major, said she has utilized the program and finds it helpful when balancing being a student parent.
“There are a lot of challenges and the most difficult thing is to balance everything,” said Bass. “It’s quite an ordeal to balance your child’s well being with everything that they need and everything that you need.”
Bass also said she found the program supportive for giving a reimbursement for child care services.
“It was really beneficial for me,” said Bass. “I’m a single mother, and sometimes it’s difficult to make ends meet on anything. So, it really helped me out a lot.”
The cost for child care and babysitting services in the United States varies on different factors. How old your child is, where you live, and how many hours per week your child will spend in a day care center are some of these factors.
According to the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, families in the United States can spend between $366 to $1,221 monthly on day care centers for babies and toddlers. Connecticut is listed as one of eight states with the most expensive costs for preschool-age care in child care centers.
Alongside the Child Care Reimbursement Program, student parents are also offered a Lactation Room located in the Women’s lounge in Connecticut Hall.
Ebony McClease, graduate intern at the Women’s Center, said the Lactation Room was designed for privacy.
“It was developed for women that had children and breast fed or needed to pump their milk,” said McClease.
The Lactation Room also provides a wash area and rocker.
Brittiany Niblack, a sociology major, said sometimes balancing being a mother and being a full time student has its challenges.
“At times I can be at the library studying, but I have to be home with my kids,” said Niblack. “My kids are always my main focus outside of school.”
Although she said she hasn’t used the Child Care Reimbursement Program, she spoke about the challenges that student parents face. Niblack said she is a full time mom with two daughters and a full time student; thus knows first-hand the day to day challenges student parents face.
“When I didn’t have a babysitter, I would have to bring my kids to class,” said Niblack. “In between my classes, I have to do homework because when I come home I am up with my kids. I have to cook for them and get them ready for the next day. When I had my second daughter, I took a week off and went right back to school.”