The proposed $3 fee increase for the Orfalea Family Children’s Center is important for several reasons. First, many UCSB students who have children can only go to school because their children are cared for at the center, which serves children ages 3 months to 5 years from approximately 150 families. In our area, the cost of quality child care is exceedingly expensive and can reach as much as $1,000 per month for an infant. At the children’s center, students pay about $600 per month for infant care. The $3 increase will allow the center to keep the center’s child care costs low, so that parents can afford to complete their education. If it is not passed and the center is forced to raise its rates, some UCSB students who have children will undoubtedly be forced to drop out.
In addition, the center hires many UCSB undergraduates as student assistants. Students who are thinking about teaching as a career can experience what it is like to work directly with children. They benefit from the many years of teaching experience at the center. The $3 increase will allow the center to continue to hire teaching assistants even as it expands to the new Student Resource Building. Finally, research has shown that positive early childhood experiences like those at the children’s center translate into success later in life. This means they are less likely to be in special education, on welfare or drop out of school.
The children’s center is one of only a handful of facilities in the area to hold a National Academy of Early Childhood Program accreditation. There is good reason for this. The environment at the center is based on respect and love for children. The staff is committed to diversity and allowing the children to explore and learn for themselves. For these reasons, I hope you will support the $3 increase for the children’s center next week.
Angela Andrade is a parent and UCSB employee.