Governor proposes program to fund child care at community colleges

State News

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a new program that would provide on-campus child care for single parents attending community college.

The governor said Thursday that he’ll ask lawmakers to approve a pilot program for up to 400 students at community college campuses around the state.

Cuomo says child care can be a significant challenge for single parents who want to earn a college degree.

26 percent of all college students are parents, and at community colleges, 33 percent are. Melissa Santiago returned to Monroe Community College in 2003 as an adult learner- and joined that 33 percent. She said it’s “a juggling act.”

Dr. Mary Ann Demario, researcher at MCC, said this proposal would not only positively affect parents, but their kids as well.

“We know that when families live below the poverty line, if parents can receive a college education and a college degree and make just $3,000 more than they currently make, their children make 17 percent more during the course of their career when they grow up. So we really have a chance to affect multiple generations of people by helping the current students,” Demario said.

MCC currently has a childcare center which is available to students, faculty, staff and community members. If the governor’s proposal passes, it could take the financial burden off some single parent students and give them the opportunity to send their kids to a place like this- while they themselves are in class.

Santiago used the childcare center during her time as a student at MCC, and now she uses it again as a staff member.

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity. I wish everyone had the opportunity to have their child enrolled in a childcare center even more so for those students that are attending school full time, even part-time,” Santiago said.

Demario’s research also shows that students who are parents who used the MCC campus childcare center graduated on time three times more than those who did not use it.

Single parents participating in the program would also have access to tutoring, career counseling and help applying to four-year schools.

The new program is part of the governor’s state budget proposal, which lawmakers hope to pass by April 1. It’s also a part of Cuomo’s 2019 women’s justice agenda, a list of legislation that Cuomo says will address the gender wage gap and other gender inequities.

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