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County steps in to fund on-campus childcare

Everett Community College announced today that its Early Learning Center will accept funding from Snohomish County. The move means the ELC – EvCC’s campus childcare center – will remain open. In November 2021, the EvCC administration announced that it would close the ELC because it was losing money.

Snohomish County officials stepped forward, offering to make up the $140,000 annual operating deficit. At the same time, it added another $60,000 to the center’s budget. Following the offer, the EvCC administration went silent, leaving the future of the center in limbo. EvCC’s interim president, Darrell Cain, took over the leadership of EvCC 16 days ago, and accepted the county’s offer shortly thereafter.

The initial agreement will enable the center to guarantee operations for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. EvCC and Snohomish County will work together to find a sustainable funding solution for the center.

I mentioned a few days ago that New York Governor Kathy Hochul authorized funding to create childcare centers at 18 SUNY campuses that do not currently offer those services to students. Cayuga Community College (CCC), which already offered childcare, said that it would use its authorization to hire and train additional childcare staff. Last year CCC purchased facilities adjacent to the campus to expand its daycare space.

And The Hechinger Report published an interesting study of student fathers last month. As it turns out student fathers are even less likely to graduate than single mothers. That can have a disastrous financial impact on families, especially those who depend most heavily on the father’s earnings. A primary reason fathers quit school? Lack of childcare.

I find it unusual that everyone seems to recognize the value of an on-campus daycare, except the WCC administration.

Childcare supports the WCC mission. The HFC does not

The impact of the closure of WCC’s Children’s Center cannot be overstated. If the standard for keeping the Children’s Center open was wall-to-wall usage, then the same standard should apply to the Health and Fitness Center. Likewise, if it were a requirement that the Children’s Center turn a profit, the same standard should apply to the Health and Fitness Center. That facility is not being used to its maximum. It is not generating income, yet it is allowed to drain literally millions of operational dollars from the college’s general fund.

WCC has dedicated funds to promoting the usage of the Health and Fitness Center, including significant advertising expenditures. If that’s the way they handle the Health and Fitness Center, where was the budget to advertise the availability of childcare services at the Children’s Center?

Not having on-campus daycare services is detrimental to both students and campus employees. Lack of childcare negatively impacts both student fathers and student mothers. It significantly compromises their ability to graduate and potentially increase their household income. This is literally the primary mission of the community college. It is THE reason we fund a community college at all.

For some reason, fulfilling the mission isn’t compelling to the WCC Administration, but keeping a flailing health club on indefinite life support is.

I guess it all depends upon where your priorities lie.

Photo Credit: Kat, via Flickrt