By Jillian Berman
For many college students, sitting through a math class at 8 a.m. can be a challenge. But one morning a few years ago, Amber Angel encountered an obstacle during that early-morning lesson most don’t expect: Her water broke.
Shortly thereafter, Angel gave birth to her second daughter and completed her associate degree, while running home between classes to nurse. She’s now finishing up her bachelor’s degree in family studies at California State University–Northridge.
Angel, 28, knows intimately the challenges that her fellow 4.8 million student-parents face. “It was this constant juggle,” she said of balancing her studies, her work schedule and her commitment to her kids. “It felt like there was this constant doubt if you were succeeding in any sector of your life.”
But Angel acknowledges she had an advantage, particularly with her first child, that many student parents can’t access: on-campus child care. Without it, “I would have never started college,” she said.
On-campus child care is becoming an increasingly limited resource. Less than half of four-year public colleges and community colleges offer on-campus child care, a drop from 10 years ago, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR).
Some states are more hospitable than others to student parents. Between 2005 and 2015, the share of campus child care centers declined in 36 states, remained the same in 13 states and increased in just one, North Dakota, IWPR found. What’s more, some states require students to meet more stringent requirements — such as maintaining a relatively full work schedule — to access child care subsidies, which can get in the way of a student’s progress.