Between baby and the books

Sarah Haas

Before trekking to Ames for class, Kelly Cagle, junior in elementary education, makes breakfast and prepares her 6-year-old son, Gavin, for his bus ride to school.

“I started college about three years after I had Gavin. I always wanted to go to college, but life got in the way,” Cagle said. “I was married early, and I helped put my spouse through college. Then we got divorced, and now I am putting myself through college.”

After Gavin turned three Cagle decided to end her tenure as a bartender and waitress and attend a community college. After obtaining her associates degree, she entered Iowa State to pursue her career as a teacher.

“It’s different for me because I see why my own son does the things he does. So I have this real-life example that I can go watch every night, and I can ask him for his advice on my lesson plans and homework assignments,” Cagle said.

Lanie Jarr, junior in civil engineering, has also had to carefully script her college experience to work well with caring for her 15-month-old baby girl, Katherine.

“During my freshman year I had [Katherine] the week before Thanksgiving break, and I missed the entire week before break,” Jarr said. “So I had two weeks off and then I just went back to school. My husband took care of her in our hometown.”

While her husband and newborn went about their lives together, Jarr stayed here to continue school. Driving home every weekend, Jarr tried to spend as much time as possible with her new family. During the fall semester of 2007, she was able to move into a home with her husband and child and is currently adjusting to the change.

“It’s kind of weird just being there around everyone else who doesn’t have kids. They have completely different perspectives,” Jarr said. “Now we live in Ankeny, so between the drive, school work and taking care of her, it’s just a lot more to be concerned about; because not only do I have to get my homework done and study for tests, but I have to raise a child and take care of three people instead of one.”

Cagle has also been able to fit her classes in while taking care of her child.

“I have to schedule my classes to fit his schedule. As soon as he leaves on his bus for school, I’m on my way to campus for class. And then he goes to day care after school, and I can pick him up on the way home,” Cagle said.

If parents are unaware of the child care opportunities available, the staff at the ISU Child Care Administration can assist.

Julia Graden, child care coordinator at the ISU Child Care Administration, encourages parents to begin their search for the appropriate child care at the Center for Child Care Resources.

“They help locate child care in the community and on campus as well. They have a database of child care providers who have openings, and they generate a list for parents. The parents are then responsible to contact them and ask questions that are pertinent for child care and decide whether or not it’s a good match for their child,” Graden said. This is a free service that is available to students, faculty and staff.

On campus, Iowa State offers three child care centers that vary in location and operating hours. University Community Childcare is located at 100 University Village, University Child Care Center at Veterinary Medicine is located at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the ISU Development Laboratory School is located at the Palmer Building on Central Campus.

While the number of children in the program varies, the number of parents on the waiting list is steady.

“Demand for child care has always been consistent, and the waiting list can range from 400 to 500 children at any time,” Graden said. “We have a high standard of service or quality; we have more kids on the waiting list than actually enrolled,” Graden said.

Those who do enroll their children pay on a sliding fee scale, which can vary depending on the contract you sign, and students pay according to the level of income.

“There are certain fees that are charged for student parents, and you have to be a student to receive some of those lower fees, and you also must fit into a correct range of income. It becomes more affordable, but there is no child care that is cheap,” Graden said.