An important part of finishing your education is having the child care you need in order to attend class, study, or work. This may take the form of a generous family member, spouse, or partner, or it may mean day care or a babysitter—or it could be a combination! Finding child care that is both safe and affordable will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on what you need to do to finish your education.
Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for child care as a student:
- Safety – You will want your child to be in a safe environment. Here are some general guidelines for how to evaluate a child care provider.
- Cost – Whether you find something on or off campus, you want to make sure what you are paying is worth what your child is receiving.
- Distance and Transportation – If you choose a day care center, consider the distance from both campus and home. Think about the gas money, bus fare, or time it would take to get there every day.
- Hours – If you have a job or class at night, you may need to supplement the child care a day care would provide. Make sure you know the hours of operation of any service or center you use.
When you start to look for child care, your college or university is a great place to start. Some campuses have their own day care centers. If your school is one of these, get in touch with the coordinator and discuss hours, pricing, and potential student discounts.
Your campus minister or other administrators may be of service in finding trustworthy students to watch your child(ren). As you know, college students are always looking for ways to make money or receive food. If you can’t afford to pay them much in cash, consider working out a trade agreement. Perhaps you can provide academic tutoring in a subject that is an area of strength, for example.
If you are close enough with any of your professors who have children, ask for suggestions for affordable child care in the area.
If you are married or have a partner, try to coordinate your schedules so that you are not in class at the same time.
If there are other pregnant and parenting students on campus, consider organizing a time exchange where you each take turns watching the children while the others study or go to class.
Not all colleges and universities have child care available to students on campus. If your school is one of these, broaden your search.
Pregnancy resource centers often have connections with affordable child care in the area. Check out our list of innovative pregnancy resource centers to find one near you that may be able to help you find child care.
Remember, you will most likely need to use a combination of these options in order to find a solution that works for your schedule and your budget. It can be daunting, but it can be done!