- Single parents attending community colleges in New York could soon receive free on-campus child care and other services under a proposal Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to test throughout the state, The Associated Press reported.
- The pilot initially would provide child care as well as services such as tutoring and career counseling to 400 students for three years, funded through a state budget lawmakers hope to pass by early April.
- Around one-third of community college students are parents, according to WROC in Rochester, and a local community college researcher noted access to child care on her institution's campus tripled the chances a student-parent graduated on time.
As colleges attempt to attract and retain more adult learners, they are finding it important to help them manage aspects of their personal lives, too, such as by providing help with child care, transportation and non-tuition expenses — the struggles that often contribute to their lower completion rates.
About 11% of undergraduates, or 2.1 million students, were single mothers as of 2012, double the share in 2000, according to a 2017 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR). Four in 10 (44%) single mothers attend two-year colleges. Yet just 28% of single mothers who began at any college between 2003 and 2009 completed a degree or certificate in six years, compared to 40% of mothers who were married and 57% of women who were not parents.
Other research has shown that half of student-parents who began college in the 2003-04 academic year defaulted on their loans in 12 years.
IWPR points out a drop in the number of two- and four-year campuses offering child care facilities in recent years. Fewer than half of public four-year colleges had on-campus child care in 2015, dropping from 55% in 2005. The number of community colleges offering a child care center fell even more, from 53% in 2003-04 to 44% in 2015.
The tide could be shifting. As one indicator, Congress last year increased appropriations for the federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS), which provided subsidies to about 5,000 students with children through more than 80 day care centers on college campuses. The program now will award about $50 million total in four-year cycles, up from $15 million, and some estimate the increase will allow the program to serve 7,600 more students.
Other efforts aim to build support for women attending community colleges, specifically. A new initiative from the Biden Foundation and Achieving the Dream, an organization advocating for community colleges, intends to improve thought leadership around retention.