More Undergrads Are Parents; Fewer Colleges Offer Childcare

One in four undergraduate students in the U.S. today is a parent, according to the CLASP Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success. With added pressures, responsibilities and logistical challenges, it’s not surprising that these students look for additional support from their schools.

Unfortunately, as the number of student-parents continues to rise, the number of campus childcare facilities available to them is in decline. A recent analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research revealed that from 2005 through 2015, the share of public colleges with campus childcare decreased in 36 states; stayed the same in 13 states and the District of Columbia; and increased only in North Dakota.

The downward trend is particularly concerning in two-year colleges, which offer a valuable entry point for mothers returning to the workforce and all parents going back to school, pursuing new career fields or working towards professional certifications. In the 2003-04 school year, 53 percent of two-year colleges provided campus childcare; by 2015 this number dropped to 44 percent.

For many nontraditional students, finances represent the single biggest challenge of attending and completing college. Childcare is part of this equation for student-parents – an added layer to what is already one of the most expensive investments that individuals and families can make.

To recruit, retain and graduate nontraditional students effectively, all colleges and universities must consider how best to support them through their academic experience with strategic initiatives for success. As the nontraditional population grows, a trend like declining options for on-campus childcare represents a move in the wrong direction.

*Photo credit to Frank Boston.

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