From the Daily: Support student-parents

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 6:18pm

In his proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, President Donald Trump recommends slashing funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program, which allocates $15 million a year to 5,000 students who are simultaneously raising families. Despite its miniscule budget, these student-parents rely on CCAMPIS funding to continue their studies by ensuring their children are taken care of during the school day. To give some perspective, in 2015, the Department of Defense budget was $496.1 billion. Family status, gender and age should not inhibit access to education. Eliminating CCAMPIS directly contradicts the Department of Education’s core mission of guaranteeing equal access to education. The Michigan Daily Editorial Board calls on the Trump administration to reconsider defunding CCAMPIS, and on the University of Michigan and other universities nationwide to continue to independently support student-parents.

The CCAMPIS program only covers a paltry 0.001 percent of the 4.8 million student-parents currently working toward higher education degrees. Current funding for CCAMPIS is extremely low compared to other federal programs, like Pell Grants. At a mere $15 million per year, which, compared to the entire Department of Education’s 2017 $68.2 billion budget, CCAMPIS’s budget is a negligible expenditure. Four-year public universities have also steadily cut on-campus childcare while the percentage of student-parents in the United States has only risen.

This combination of cuts to on-campus childcare and the impending elimination of CCAMPIS will hang student-parents out to dry. Lack of childcare access poses a unique challenge to these hard-working student-parents as they attempt to balance their schooling, home life and, oftentimes, a job or two on the side.

The majority of the people affected by these CCAMPIS cuts are women and people of color. Forty-seven percent of Black undergraduate women have dependent children and women are nearly twice as likely as men to be student-parents. Furthermore, statistics show that of the 4.8 million student-parents in the United States, nearly 43 percent were living below the federal poverty line in the 2011-2012 school year. Therefore, nearly half of all student-parents would not be able to afford reliable, safe daycare without CCAMPIS. Cuts to this program will only hurt those who are already underserved in the United States.

If the Department of Education truly values equal access to education regardless of race, class or gender, which they tout as core to their mission statement, then they must acknowledge the transformative benefits of subsidized, on-campus childcare. Childcare already poses a significant financial burden on working families, but it is especially onerous on student-parents. In the state of Michigan, infant care costs can reach $9,882 a year, or $824 a month. For the average Michigan family making the median annual income of $59,940, childcare consumes over 16 percent of their yearly pay. Parents should not have to sacrifice an education due to expensive childcare.

Studies show individuals with bachelor’s degrees make, on average, $21,100 more per year than those with just a high school diploma. For many parents, $21,000 more annually can make a substantial difference in their well-being and the well-being of their children, and it can also help future generations more easily achieve their educational goals.

CCAMPIS mitigates the enormous stress placed on student-parents when they have no option but to balance work, school and childcare. A recipient of CCAMPIS should not have to choose between an education and caring for their child. While this program is by no means the be-all and end-all solution for student-parents, it significantly aids parents for the few years they are in school working toward a degree.

With CCAMPIS, education for student-parents directly translates to intergenerational benefits.

The advantages of a college or vocational degree are undeniable. This program enables parents to access higher education; slashing CCAMPIS funding would only hurt motivated Americans who want an education for themselves and their children.

The Department of Education must take action to help support student-parents by making child care resources more accessible and affordable. Family status should have no bearing on whether a person can attain an education. With CCAMPIS, this dream becomes a reality and leads to innumerable benefits for parents, their children and society as a whole.

Rather than eliminating CCAMPIS, Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos should consider expanding the program to reach more of the 4.8 million parents in the U.S. working toward their degrees. In the meantime, we implore the University and universities nationwide to continue to step up, even if the federal government will not, and continue to create programs to support student-parents.