Southern Oregon University's announcement that the Schneider Children's Center will resume offering day care for the children of students, staff and the public comes as welcome news. And the partnership with the Oregon Child Development Coalition that made it possible to reopen the center offers benefits beyond just continued day care for student parents.
After years of providing quality child care for students and university staff, the Children's Center ran into financial trouble last year. The SOU student government decided to stop subsidizing the center directly from student activity fees, electing to offer a $400 stipend to qualifying students that they could spend at any child care provider. In response, the center increased its fees and opened enrollment to the general public, but ran a deficit for the year anyway, prompting the university to announce it would close.
Students responded by voting in a referendum to restore the subsidy, but it was unclear whether the center could reopen this fall.
The partnership with OCDC, which operates Early Head Start programs around the state, will set aside a still-undetermined number of slots for children who qualify for Head Start. The children of students will come next, then staff and then the larger community.
It's likely that some student parents will qualify for the Head Start program, making child care even more affordable. That's the best news of all, because access to child care is vital to young parents, especially single parents trying to better their situation by earning a degree.