Going To School While Raising A Child
By Charles Blades
Miami Journalism Student
It’s 9 o’clock and that means it’s time to go visit Roman in the hospital. A quick 15 minute ride to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that features a stop at Starbucks for coffee is all it that’s in-between Drew Scheffler and Kendra Franklin and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Roman was born a little over a month ago, about two months ahead of when he was originally supposed to arrive. He’s a little undersized, but after a scare when he was first born he’s been nothing but a normal, healthy baby who’s just been stuck in the hospital more than anyone would like to be.
For Scheffler and Franklin this means they make a least one trip to see Roman every day while Franklin is still on bedrest and Scheffler picks up shifts at Red Lobster whenever his schedule allows.
“I stopped going to class around six months,” Franklin says. “That’s when I started [to] have blood pressure problems. Drew left [school] when he found out I was pregnant, he wanted to work as much as he could.”
According to a 2014 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 4.8 million men and women attend college with a child and even more drop out of school because of an unexpected pregnancy. A survey out of the Wisconsin Financial Aid office indicated that only one in ten of students with children graduated with a Bachelors degree within six years and more than 30 percent of women surveyed indicated that becoming pregnant was the main reason they dropped out of school.
Amanda Robinson is one of the luckier students in this regard. She’s a 4th year senior at Miami University with a 3 year old daughter who’s on a path to graduate in just a few months.
While in school, Robinson has had the help of Miami University Hamilton’s Campus Kids program, a daycare and preschool which the university offers to students who are parents. Robinson calls Campus Kids magic.
“[Campus Kids] is different because the schedules change all the time especially the first couple weeks of school,” she says. “You’ll come in and it’ll take the first two week because people are adjusting, dropping and adding classes, so I always say it’s a beautiful thing.”
Campus Kids isn’t the only childcare center that provides that service for student parents. A 2011 examination of the issue by the American Association of University Women found that a little more than 47 percent of community colleges had some sort of childcare services similar to Campus Kids. While that number is significant, it still means that more than half of community colleges across the country don’t currently have any childcare services for their students.
For Robinson, the on-campus situation made a world of difference.
“It’s so convenient to only have to come to one place,” she says. “I came here for school, I came here for work and I came here for my child so it was nice, we lived on campus.”
For Robinson and her daughter, being able to do everything — work, school, and daycare — all in one place cuts down on the number of trips and car rides to mom’s house to drop her off. There’s also financial support for parents who are able to go to an on campus childcare center. Vouchers can bring the total amount that goes toward childcare to a rate that can be lower than non-campus based childcare sources.
Director of Campus Kids Traci Anderson is one of the people who gets the word out and helps explain to parents how on campus childcare can become accessible to them.
“At Campus Kids we offer quality and affordable childcare to students as well as helping students find jobs in the child care field after they graduate,” says Anderson. “Many of our part time employees go to school at Miami in the child development major and it allows them firsthand experience as well as a chance to work while they are in school.”
For Robinson being able to work on campus did one more thing. It allowed her to see her daughter more often.
“Up until [we came to Campus Kids] it had just been me and her, so when I first dropped her off here I was very nervous about it, how was she going to act over here, and they always told me she was better than I thought,” says Robinson.
Robinson credits Campus Kids for being a one-stop shop that allowed her and her daughter to really succeed during her time at Miami.
“For all of the moms who come here, we offer a path to graduate easily and on time,” says Anderson. “Our main goal at Campus Kids is that both that the children succeed and we offer a great service for them but also that the parents can go to their classes, get their work done.”
So what kinds of opportunities does this provide for Scheffler and Franklin? On November 22 (right before Thanksgiving) their son Roman was finally able to head home after a two month stay at Cincinnati Children’s. Scheffler is still working doubles every weekend and caring for both his baby and Franklin on the weekend, but Franklin just started going back to work as a nursing assistant.
“I like it, it’s nice to get away from the baby for a little while. It pays a lot better than Red Lobster and if I work my way up it could turn into a real career,” she says.
In order for her to move up in the nursing world more schooling is usually required and should she return to Miami she’ll have a childcare option available to her on campus.