Tahina Wursten, a senior science and English major from Tallahassee, Florida, starts her morning by getting her three children ready for the day, then either goes to work or school while her husband watches the kids. When her shift ends or she gets out of class, she switches cars with her husband for her turn with the kids while her husband goes to work.
This is their daily schedule: work, school and taking turns with their kids because they can’t afford a daycare to allow their work and school schedules to line up, Wursten said.
“[An on-campus daycare] would be a great benefit,” Wursten said. “It seems like a step [Dixie State University] should invest in.”
Dixie State University is one of two universities in Utah without a childcare facility, the other being Brigham Young University. While BYU doesn’t have a daycare, the university does provide a resource center that helps parent students find local child care providers.
“Having a daycare service on campus would be a really great tool for our students who have families,” said Lauren DiSalvo, assistant professor of art history. “In terms of retention and supporting [the students] … that’s a place that you can lose a lot of students.”
Wursten said she knew students who submitted a proposal years ago to start a childcare service; it was approved by the administration, but there were no steps taken to move forward. The students then graduated and the plan dissipated.
DiSalvo said she has come across this topic in multiple different committee meetings including the Women’s Resource Center and faculty senate, but it doesn’t seem to go further than a discussion.
Wursten said an on-campus daycare would help prevent stress from last-minute schedule changes, such as exams or other activities scheduled outside of the usual class time.
Wursten said one time she and her husband ended up having a final at the same time on the same day. His family had to travel from Mesquite to watch their kids because they had no other option.
An on-campus daycare could serve as an academic opportunity for other students by doubling as a learning center where students can get hands-on experience, DiSalvo said.
A daycare would also serve an importance to faculty and staff, DiSalvo said. When new faculty are starting, they ask about what daycare system DSU has for their children.
“It seems to me that people struggle to find and get into daycares, especially for infants,” DiSalvo said.
Debbie Cragun, director of the Nontraditional Student Hourly Child Care at WSU campus in Ogden, said: “Having a childcare service really shows our university supports our nontraditional students. It shows that the university understands the needs of students who are parents and they want to give their support.”
Cragun said it is difficult for student-parents to find flexible and affordable childcare. Businesses around the city are expensive and require parents to commit to a full day, while their university childcare is hourly based and works with unexpected schedule changes.
If a student needs to take an exam after the daycare’s usual hours of operation, they will coordinate with the testing center to allow the student to drop their child off while they take the exam.
Nontraditional Student Hourly Child Care, WSU’s daycare that fosters a supportive environment to empower non-traditional students, began during the 1998-1999 academic year. It charges $3.50 per hour, and was funded through a grant from the Department of Education, Cragun said.
Southern Utah University is the most recent school to implement this program. Other universities include the University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University, and Utah Valley University.
“I hope if [a daycare] is proposed, the university will see it’s a need and stick with it,” Wursten said.
This is part one of a two-part story! Want to read the second half? Check it out below!