A pandemic lesson for CSCU leaders: affordable, accessible childcare is critical
If there can be anything good that has come from the last year and the horrors of living through this pandemic, perhaps it is the renewed focus on the need for affordable and accessible childcare. As a teen mom, I know first-hand the need for access to safe, reliable, and developmentally appropriate childcare at an affordable price. I was able to obtain my G.E.D and undergraduate degree only because my institution in New York offered childcare services on campus.
As a graduate student at CCSU, I volunteered at the Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center and formed the student parent support group “It Takes a Village.” Parents in our support groups had the same story I did: lack of childcare was a huge detriment to getting an education and to maintaining employment. Parents reported that childcare costs were too high, which often lead to children being left unattended or in unhealthy situations as parents tried to better their lives by going to school or working to pay the bills.
The need for affordable childcare was obvious.
If only the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) administration, which oversees CCSU and the other three regional state universities, would recognize this need and open the dialogue to extend, increase, and incorporate more childcare options for our families. Unfortunately, some administrators at CSCU would attach the cynical “drop and shop” label to childcare, diminishing its benefits and blindly ignoring the need. Such “Mad Men era” thinking must be eradicated if our families, communities, and our nation are to truly succeed.
That’s why when the Biden administration introduced their stimulus plan and deemed childcare as critical infrastructure needed for economic prosperity, it felt like a weight had lifted. Our leaders finally were waking up to the reality so many single parents face when trying to balance learning, working, and caring for their children.
The Biden administration made it clear that communities providing safe, reliable and affordable childcare help our nation’s economy by not only allowing our parents to return to work but by giving children a healthy place to grow and thrive.
I am living proof of that. I know if I did not have safe and reliable childcare available for my son, I would not be in the position I am today: earning my doctorate; volunteering in my community; serving as a board member for CCSU’s Early Learning Program; and financially stable. But, most importantly, my son would not be the healthy, happy and successful man he is today.
An abundance of research shows that access to safe and healthy childcare increases not only a child’s mental and physical wellness, but that of our communities and our nation. It’s time for CSCU leaders to enter the modern age and work to make affordable and accessible childcare for students, faculty, and the community a reality.
Brandy Sellitto is a graduate student at Central Connecticut State University.
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