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College day-care help comes from other sources

Posted: Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This addresses the Dec. 20 letter to the editor that spoke of day care at Kenai Peninsula College. The writer stated that KPC "pales in comparison to UAA's day-care facilities." The writer is correct. With a student body of about 1,300 each semester, it is difficult to "compete" with the Anchorage campus that has more than 15,000.

However, one thing the writer may not know is that UAA does not operate a childcare center. The Tanaina Child Development Center is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization independent of UAA, though housed on the UAA campus. It serves UAA students and employees, but operates separately from and is not funded by the university.

I frequently hear from students who would like KPC to offer child care. I explain that there are barriers to providing such a service. The first is the lack of space; we don't have enough classrooms to offer all the courses we'd like and cannot provide enough office space for our faculty and staff. The Legislature will not fund the construction of a childcare center on the campus when we have so many other needs and there are childcare options available from private providers who we would compete against.

When speaking to many of these students about what they want and how much they expect to pay for child care, I learn that what they really want is subsidized day care. As harsh as it might sound, the university's mission does not include providing subsidized child care for students.

To assist our students in finding affordable child care, the college partners with and directs referrals to the Child Care Assistance Program managed by the LeeShore Center in Kenai. The program is designed for parents who are attending college, working or seeking work. Funded by federal grants, the program has assisted many of our students with their child care needs.

KPC even has a page on our Web site about the program with a direct link to the LeeShore Center. For more information on this program, go to www.kpc.alaska.edu/student/childcare.html or call the center at 283-4707.

I hope potential KPC students who need child care take advantage of this program. As a parent, I understand the challenges faced when you are trying to complete your education, work a full-time job and take care of a child that is why it took me 10 years to get my first degree. Programs like this one have been created to make it easier than it was in the past and that's a good thing for students of all ages today.

Gary Turner

Director

Kenai Peninsula College



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