Child care issues are bringing University of Minnesota student parents together.
The University’s Council of Graduate Students and Professional Student Government are currently creating a group where student parents can connect with each other, access resources like daycare programs and discuss parental issues.
Last year, the University announced a plan to close its Child Development Center. After hearing about the closure, graduate student Scott Petty decided to go to COGS with a solution.
“There needs to be an advocacy voice for student parents,” Petty said. “Administrators need to know who to call.” He added administration might be more willing to communicate with student parents with a group behind them.
Petty said he hopes the committee will be fully-funded and operational within the next few weeks.
Rebecca Stabler, a group co-founder and student parent, said two child daycare centers often utilized by students had funding significantly cut by the University two years ago.
Stabler said the University’s childcare programs made it possible for her to go back to school.
“Basically, [the University] just defunded our two centers and no one cared. These are two centers that support student parents and make it possible to go back to school,” Stabler said.
One of the goals of the group is to give student parents more of a voice over issues, such as cuts in funding.
Sarah Shueb, a group co-founder and student parent, said the group is currently drafting its constitution and by-laws, and is also planning events where student parents can meet one another.
Shueb said she’s excited by the opportunities the group presents because it can be difficult to meet new people while getting one’s child involved.
“I think Minnesota is very isolating,” Stabler said. “There’s a very big chunk of the year where you can’t go outside … if you don’t know anybody, you end up in your apartment all winter.”
Getting to know other student parents is beneficial, Shueb said. Students can babysit for one another, schedule playdates and even work together on schoolwork, she said.
“It’s just so important to have friends,” she said.