CUNY Scrambles To Keep Up With Student Daycare Needs


While City College in Harlem is in an uproar over the coming closure of the school’s  daycare facility for students with young children, Brooklyn’s two schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system – Brooklyn College and Kingsborough Community College – remain open and are both running well.

Kings County Politics looked at the daycare facilities at all three schools following a recent report from City Public Advocate Letitia James office found that the city’s funding for CUNY child care has remained the same since 1980 despite the increased cost for running these centers and the increased demand for child care service from CUNY students. James called on the city to triple its contribution towards CUNY child care from $500,000 to $1.53 million.

DaycareDespite James’ efforts, City College, will be closing their child care center at the end of this month for renovations without any plans to provide alternative housing. While Manhattan City Councilman allocated $1.6 million to the childcare facilities for repairs, outraged parents say that no one has told them for sure that the renovated space will continue to be used for childcare.

“They owe accountability to parents and to the City Council for their use of public monies. Their actions are dislocating CCNY parents and will mean that many CCNY parents cannot continue with their degrees,” according to a statement on a petition site on behalf of CCNY student parents.

The closure of the childcare center will also result in layoffs. According to administration plans, teachers, some who have served the Center for decades, will be unemployed in June with no severance pay.

The Board of Directors has offered to provide childcare subsidies for a year at outside centers. However, student parents and advocates for the center are calling on the administration to provide an alternative space for the Center while renovations are taking place. They are also requesting a written confirmation that the Center will continue to operate when the renovations are finished.

Parents and advocates also charge that that the school’s childcare subsidy program was being structured by the administration in a way that make very few CCNY parents eligible.

First on the list, only current Childcare Center children are eligible. New student parents will not be eligible, even though CCNY’s website still advertises a child care center. Currently, the Center serves potty-trained children ages two to five. Most of the children are around three to four years old, making them eligible for universal pre-K programs. Those eligible for universal pre-K programs are not eligible for the subsidy. Most of these programs do not offer an afterschool program and end around 2:40 p.m, which is earlier than many college classes end.

The only children eligible for the program, according to the guidelines, will be children two to three years of age who are potty trained. Those familiar with the center say this is a very small number of children, all of whom have parents graduating at the end of this year. Therefore, no students will be eligible for the subsidies. CCNY parents are not convinced that this was a coincidence.

KingsboroughBut Kingsborough Community College took a more proactive approach, and after finding they lost their federal grant for their day care center, the successfully applied for Pre-K funding before they were aware they would lose the federal grant. With this new grant, none of the child care spots were lost.

However, the demand at  Kingsborough’s Center is high.  Current student parents have priority registration, followed by registration for new parents.  As of May 2015, the child development center has over 313 active families on its waiting list.

“We’ve got an amazing child care program, so we have been able to look at how we can support the evening and weekend students as well because they are in great need. Obviously, we have a commuter population, many of whom are single parents who do need child care while they’re at school. We try to make sure as much as possible that there is coverage across the board,” said Dawn Walker, Executive Director of Kingsborough’s Office of Communications and Government Relations.

Kingsborough’s center underwent significant expansion in 2010 after it received the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant. The center now has extended hours, staying open from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., which is a 54 percent increase. They offer child care for an expanded age group as well, from the toddler program serving children from 18 months to two years and five months up until the school age program which services children from five years to nine years. The center has seen a 58 percent increase in children being served. The day program can accommodate 40 children per hour, while the night program can accommodate up to 20 children per hour. There is also a Saturday program with 15 spaces per hour that runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

BrooklynCollegeBrooklyn College offers child care for student parents as well, from Monday thorugh Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The services are available to children of registered Brooklyn College Students. Priority registration is given to full-time students who are eligible for Pell grants as well as military students. Fees for student-parents may be as low as $5 per week , based on household income and family size. At its highest, fees can run up to $89 a week for children four months to 2.11 years, and $64.75 a week for preschool students ages three to 3.11. For four year old students, child care services are free under the Universal Pre-K program. The number of seats available is based on official notice from the NYC Department of Education.

Brooklyn College also offers an afterschool program Monday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with varying fees based on ages. Parents of infants four to 12 months will pay $20 a day while parents of school age children 6 to 12 years old will pay $12 a day.