ASI Supports Campus Childcare
March 13, 2007 10:54 PM
When walking by the red, yellow and blue walls of the Early Childhood Education Center, it is common to hear shrieks of children's laughter.
The center's goal is to provide low-income parents at SF State a safe, happy and nurturing childcare program located on campus. Owned and operated by Associated Students Inc. since 1984, the ECEC uses art, music, playtime and reading in its curriculum for children ages six months to five years old.
Each student at the university puts in $42 a semester into ASI, and the center receives 40 percent of the ASI’s budget, totaling about $1.4 million dollars. While most students complain about student registration fees, few said they mind paying part of their fee to run this program on campus.
"I think it's a necessary service, how do you expect people to better themselves and be integrated in the economy?" said Lauren DeArman, 23.
According to the preschool program director, Carol Rector, fees for the center are based on income needs. First priority is given to low-income undergraduate student-parents first, then all other student-parents, the graduate student-parents, then faculty and staff parents, and finally, community parents.
The $1.4 million the center receives from ASI only accounts for about a quarter of the ECEC's funding, as parents pay about 50 percent of the costs, and around 25 percent comes from grants and donations.
The pricing structure varies depending on income and the number of hours per week a family uses the services, but low-income student childcare fees are less than half the average cost of childcare in San Francisco, according to the annual Regional Market Rate Survey. Low-income student childcare fees are less than half the average cost of childcare in San Francisco, according to the California Department of Education.
Jenny Dickow, 24, said she is grateful that ASI is pitching in to help student-parents like her. Without the center, life with her 19-month-son would be much different.
“I wouldn’t be in school, no way,” she said.
But at least one student didn’t think it was fair that students were subsidizing roughly 120 families at the ECEC.
“I think it shouldn’t apply to people who aren’t parents,” said Jon Montelermoso, 21, of the student fees that go toward the center. “We’re practically giving away money that’s not used for us.”
But Rector said the center needs those fees in order to provide high-quality childcare for parents while they go to class, a task that’s difficult, particularly for low-income students.
The center is also one of 22 childcare facilities in San Francisco accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This accreditation, Rector said, is a voluntary and has much stricter standards than both national and state accreditation.
Chris Oropeza, ASI's creative arts representative, said the center is something that the university should be proud of.
“It’s one of ASI’s jewels,” said Oropeza.
The Newman Club president, Flor Alvarez, 29, said the convenience of having the ECEC on campus was good.
“If I had children I would bring them there,” she said.
“If you want to continue studying it is helpful because you can rely on them," said Alvarez. "Your child is near and you don’t have to take him to another side of the city.”
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