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State Lawmakers Explore Making It Easier For Community College Students To Get Child Care Subsidies

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is exploring ways to make it easier for parents who are going to community college to get care for their kids at reduced rates.

About a quarter of students at community and technical colleges in the state are parents. But to get subsidized child care, they have to work an average of at least 20 hours a week in addition to going to school.

A bill under consideration in the state House would drop that work requirement for full-time students.

Angelica Gonzalez has three kids and is a law student right now. She urged lawmakers to eliminate the work obligation because she says when she was going to community college, juggling her responsibilities was a constant struggle.

“It meant that I would have to sleep very few hours a night in order to meet my school requirements, work requirements and being a parent,” she said. “It also meant that my children got less time with me.”

Gonzalez said she got sick for six months but felt like she couldn’t slow down. She said she has watched other women take many years to get their degrees because they’re stretched too thin taking care of kids, going to school and working.

According to language in the bill, parents in community college are more likely to drop out if they work more than 15 hours per week.

A similar bill in the state Senate would also drop the work requirement for parents going to four-year or tribal colleges, in addition to community and technical colleges.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.