By Sarah Wood
Upon moving from New York to Pennsylvania due to the high cost of living, Irene Price and her husband struggled to find living wage jobs without a college degree.
Those financial challenges increased after the birth of their first child.
Wanting more stability and flexibility in her work schedule, Irene Price decided to pursue an associate degree at Northampton Community College.
Originally hesitant about being older than her “traditional-aged” peers, she soon realized her life experiences served as an asset.
“If life experiences had a college degree, I entered college with a master’s degree in life,” said Price, who is currently an undergraduate student at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). “A lot of my essays and contributions in class are so rich because of being able to draw from just life experience and everything.”
However, finding affordable and available child care options created additional stress to her college experience.
“Child care was like a noose around our neck,” said Price. “It was something that kind of pushed us over a financial cliff because we didn’t live around family members at all. We were kind of on our own. For me, it was the biggest hurdle.”
Though Northampton offered grants for child care and on-campus support, Price was still required to pay out-of-pocket fees until her application was approved. Additionally, child care services were not offered over spring break and the summer.
Those issues continued when Price transferred to Golden West College after her family relocated to California. Looking to enroll in a child care program, she was instead put on a long wait list.
“Sometimes the resources are there but they are not ample enough,” said Price. “And maybe that speaks to more of a need on a macro level, where there needs to be more funding or more availability for child care.”