Like many other college students, RCC student Ashley Boucher wakes up to a world of responsibilities. But Boucher’s dependability must extend beyond work, school and her social life. Every day Boucher must be a mother to her 19-month-old daughter, Alana.
Waking up at 6 a.m. to an alarm clock certainly isn’t easy, but try waking up to a little girl who needs lots of care and attention.
After hurrying to get ready to leave the house no later than 7:30 a.m., Boucher drops off her daughter at her boyfriend’s mother’s house. After classes, Boucher hurries to work, picking her daughter up later in the day to arrive home around 4 p.m.
Boucher spends the rest of her evening with Alana, trying to fit homework into her already hectic day around diapers, baths and feedings.
While she can’t imagine life any other way, Boucher knows that she had to grow up quickly and take responsibility for her actions.
“I had Alana when I was only 19, but I was fortunate to have the support of my family, my boyfriend and his family,” Boucher said. “It’s a challenge raising a baby at such a young age, and I couldn’t have done everything I am able to do without all of the help I have.”
But many young women do not have it as “easy” as Boucher. Some women have no money and no family. But this harsh reality conflicts with the role that women in American culture are expected to play.
Today, women are both homemaker and breadwinner. Women are expected to do it all, have it all and be it all. We are expected to be Superwoman and nothing less. But we are not provided with the resources necessary to be all that we are “supposed” to be.
A study conducted worldwide revealed that women earn a little over half of what men earn. This trend has come to be known as the “feminization of poverty.” In areas all over the world, including the United States, women lack the tools required to change their underprivileged status.
Young mothers desire the opportunity to earn a higher education. However, the cost of caring for a baby takes precedence. Many women have to sacrifice their career ambitions in order to devote more time and energy to raising a child. But women should not be forced to surrender their goals to future generations.
Every college should establish a day-care center at minimal or no cost to students. Not only would this allow mothers to continue their education, but it would keep them from sinking deep into debt. Providing quality day care allows mothers to focus on improving their earning potential by acquiring a higher education.
RCC has an Early Childhood Studies program available to students, faculty and the community. The nurturing environment of the program makes it a luxury that all students should be aware of.
The licensed program is offered on all three campuses. The Riverside Campus can accommodate up to 105 children, ages 6 weeks to 5 years. The Norco and Moreno Valley campuses each have room for up to 30 children, ages 2 to 5 years. Between 2004 and 2005, approximately 180 children will attend the three centers.
However, only 30 percent of the space and operations are dedicated directly to serving RCC students. There is a mere 15 percent student discount available for the preschool program, making it $400 each month. But there is no student discount available in the toddler and infant programs. Toddlers costs $650, and for infants a massive $680 is owed each month. Although these prices appear high, they are actually average for Riverside County.
Realistically, most mothers are unable to afford childcare, even at a “discounted” price. Besides, some women wait over six months to enroll their children in the program at RCC.
Childcare should be free of charge or at least provided at a much larger discount. As RCC’s financial board decides how to distribute funds, it is important that they think of the Early Childhood Studies program. Funds are dumped each year into several departments, but student mothers are constantly neglected. It is time that these women are given the resources they need to ensure a bright future for both them and their children.
Quality childcare contributes to overall development in children and helps build stronger families. This is exactly what is needed for a powerful future. With the right steps taken, RCC’s Early Childhood Studies program can evolve into a life-changing, goal-inspiring, valuable resource for everyone.