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The state should continue funding UC childcare centers as investments for the future

By Daily Bruin Staff

Feb. 27, 2012 2:00 a.m.

With classes to study for, bills to pay and children to raise, student parents have a lot on their minds.

Worries about affordable childcare should not be added to the mix.

If Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-2013 budget proposal is passed, state-subsidized childcare benefiting many University of California student parents could be slashed.

The program costs about $3.5 million to maintain and affects about 400 children among the 10 UC childcare centers, including 53 kids at UCLA. This number is contingent on the amount of state support, since these parents often cannot afford the full tuition of the centers while trying to finance their own educations.

In a time of financial stress, it might seem logical to cut this small program.

But it’s a shortsighted solution.

Investing in childcare for student parents lays the foundation for stronger higher education in the future. Studies have shown that children who attend early care and education programs perform better in grade school and have a more successful school career.

UCLA Early Care and Education programs give a select number of student parents the opportunity to put their children in this learning environment for a reduced price ““ a result of current state support.

Gay MacDonald, executive director of UCLA Early Care and Education, who oversees the childcare centers, argues that funding UC childcare is actually a two-for-one deal. In just a few years, UC student parents will graduate and begin contributing to their communities while also paying taxes.

Years later, their children will be well equipped to follow the same path.

Without the ability to fund their educations and raise their children, many student parents may drop out, leading to negative long-term consequences for their communities.

For now, the UCLA childcare center is rallying with the other UC centers to send a plea to the governor’s office. If the cuts happen, UCLA will try to maintain the same number of children until June, so their parents can finish the quarter without the added burden.

The childcare center will also apply for aid from the Student Fee Advisory Committee, a student council that advises the chancellor on the allocation of student fees. The committee has granted them aid in the past.

UCLA students should take an active role in preserving a service they helped to create 40 years ago, when student parents occupied Ackerman Grand Ballroom and took turns babysitting while others rushed off to class.

Perhaps the undergraduate student government could consider using funds to support the childcare center. Though the number of undergraduate student parents is small, these parents often need all the help they can get.

It goes back to the basics ““ if we want higher education to flourish, we need to support it at its roots.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board

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