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Students bemoan lack of campus day care facilities

By Sarah Jordon
On October 31, 2013

Students at Prairie View A&M University are questioning why no childcare facility is available on the main campus to students with young children.
Prairie View students claim that they are struggling to find local childcare options at affordable rates, forcing many students to either drop out of school or bring their children with them to class.
Prairie View is one of only two universities in or near the Houston metro area that does not offer child daycare service to students and staff. Universities that provide childcare services in Houston and surrounding include the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Texas Southern University, Lonestar Community College, and the University of Houston, which has two separate campus daycares with a waitlist.
Senior communications major Chadiah King says, "People are bringing their kids to class because they don't have anywhere else to take them, or they drop out to pay for daycare. The school could do something like letting education majors intern at a daycare or use student workers to help with the cost."
Erica Hill, a junior communications major, also says, "It would be nice to have a daycare on campus; trust me, when I looked at colleges that was a big factor."
Nicky Ramirez, a former Prairie View student, worries that the lack of daycare facilities provides students with the wrong message. She says, "PV has a WIC office on campus that the students use. Obviously if there is a need for a WIC office, there is a large number of students with children. What message are we sending students when we enable them to access government programs, yet deny them access to quality daycare to allow them to continue their education?"
Texas Southern University, has the most affordable childcare in the region, charging only $85.00 a week for a 2-year-old. Childcare director Wendy Cornellius explained that TSU's daycare is part of its early childhood education lab, and is a learning based, state licensed, childcare facility.
Cornellius comments, "The childcare option at TSU provides a great option for our students and staff. It allows them to attend classes knowing that their children are in a safe and secure environment. Prairie View needs to have this service."
The lack of on-campus childcare is not a new problem for Prairie View. According to Dr. Lauretta Byars, vice president for Student Affairs and Institutional Advancement at Prairie View A&M University, this issue has been addressed in the past.
Byars points out that Prairie View went so far as to develop a committee to address this issue, and looked into developing a program, but that it seems Prairie View does not have the structure to support an onsite daycare at this time.
Byars also stated that Prairie View is taking steps to be able to provide facilities to nontraditional students with children, pointing out the new campus housing available to students with children. Byars states that university officials were unaware that students with children were having such a difficult time finding quality daycare options and did not know that there was such a demand for this service.
Another problem Prairie View faces when trying to develop an onsite childcare facility is both space and resources. To be able to provide a quality daycare service, there would have to be both the space, and some sort of academic program to anchor the facility.
Byars encourages members of the community interested in opening a childcare facility to consider retail space available on campus.

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