Six out of the eight top-ranked universities in the state offer their students child care options. Utah Tech University is not among the universities and is leaving some of its students stretched thin, struggling to find time for their studies while taking care of their children.
Melissa Ehlert, a sophomore population health major from Cedar Hills, moved her family of eight to St. George last year in hopes of finishing her degree to become a nurse. She has six children with her youngest being two years old.
During the weekdays, her husband lives up north for work, so Ehlert becomes the sole provider for her children during the week while also being a full-time student at Utah Tech.
Currently, Ehlert’s way of managing her time to ensure her children are taken care of and her academics don’t suffer is to average around four hours of sleep each weeknight.
“We’re all just trying to survive, trying to find time to study while cooking dinner or folding laundry,” Ehlert said.
She deals with constant mental anguish and stress, like most of the mothers she knows who are also full-time students on campus.
“If I can’t find child care, I have to think about if I’m even allowed to bring my children to class or having to miss class [while] losing points from pop quizzes and important information,” Ehlert said.
Sara Jensen, a junior medical radiography major from Dalles, Oregon, also struggles with the lack of day care. She knows other people are suffering while trying to take care of themselves and their children, all while regularly meeting deadlines and attending class on time.
In order to go to school, Jensen’s husband has to take care of their children while working, which slows down his progress and lowers his earnings to support his family.
“Families are struggling, and its really hard for all of us,” Jensen said.
Dru Bottoms, women’s resource center coordinator, said Utah Tech has bounced around some ideas for a day care. However, they need to know how many students are in need of and would benefit from a facility and if the number is great enough to be able to fund a day care
“We would love to have a day care, but our first step is first going to pay for low-income student child care,” Bottoms said.
In January 2024, Utah Tech will be coming out with a grant for low-income parents needing financial assistance for child care. They will start advertising the news to students when the date comes closer. The name of the funding will be called Blazer Child Care.