Opinion: Pandemic results in DMACC daycare woes for students

Anastasia Crist

Are you a parent attending or working at DMACC? Are you on the waitlist for the Childhood Development Center? Well then, you’re not alone. 

You and 59 others currently remain on the waitlist for an opening in the daycare center on campus. Since the daycare is also open to the public, there are at least 23 children attending that don’t have a tie to DMACC, according to the center.

What should be a convenient service to DMACC students with kids has frequently become a source of stress. In fact, only 25% of the children at the development center are children of DMACC students. those of students. I met with Sherri Sciarrotta, the coordinator of the child development center, to find the driving force behind the lack of priority for DMACC students, faculty, and staff. 

When I asked her why student parents were on a waitlist while the community held positions, she had a very simple answer, the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, DMACC went mostly virtual and the campus almost entirely shut down. In order to keep the Childhood Development Center running, they opened the center to the community. 

I can understand the daycare not wanting to cut children already admitted during the pandemic, but I would like to see the daycare start to prioritize DMACC students, faculty, and staff. 

According to the Center, the current percentage of non-DMACC children is 40%, while 25% are children of DMACC students and the remaining 35% are faculty or DMACC “affiliated” children.

To add to my frustration, I learned yesterday that community members pay student rates. 

The rate for a child aged two and over is $210 a week for full-time care. This is above Iowa’s local average of $186 per week. The rate for an infant is $255 a week also well above the local average of $218 per week. 

While there are some third-party scholarships and tuition assistance, that help is dependent on those third parties, and not guaranteed by DMACC. That’s $1,120 a month. That is a whole monthly income for some families.

I would like to see the DMACC childcare center not only prioritize DMACC parents but find a way to offer a weekly rate closer to or below Iowa’s average.

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