The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Unattended children an issue for student-parents

By Karen Gavis/se news editor

With child care sparse on TCC campuses, parents and administrators try to find a proper balance.

SE Campus nursing student Christine Hackworth said it’s hard as well as expensive to find care for her two children.

“I’ve had to miss class,” she said. “I’ve had to miss work.”

Hackworth said she does not leave her children unattended because she is afraid something might happen to them.

“I have thought about it, but I haven’t done it out of fear,” she said.

SE Campus librarian Jo Klemm said children are sometimes left unattended in the library, which creates a noise problem.

“We can’t guarantee that they are going to stay safe,” she said. “Or they may find access to things on the Internet or in books that aren’t appropriate for young children.”

The library is a busy place, and, sometimes, it is difficult to get a computer.

“When people’s children are using the computer, that means a student doesn’t have access to a computer,” she said.

Klemm said she knows it is a hard balance for parents, but studies get disrupted when a baby is crying in the library. She would like to see a computer lab where mothers could take babies or small children and have Internet access. 

SE police Lt. Chanissa Dietrich said children are allowed on campus but not allowed to be left unattended.

Dietrich provided a section of TCC policy which reads “ … parents are cautioned that minor children are not permitted to remain unattended on campus, to attend classes with their parents, or to be in the Testing Center either attended or unattended.”

People will sometimes leave their child in the library and go to class, Dietrich said. When police are called, it isn’t because children are causing trouble, but that they were left unattended.

“It’s like, ‘Hey, the babysitter called, and I didn’t want to miss class,’” she said.

NE Campus librarian Bonnie Hodges said children are not left unattended in the library on NE, and if they were, the police would be called.

“We wouldn’t hesitate for a minute because we would not want to be held responsible if something happened,” she said.

Children are not allowed in the computer learning center, Hodges said, but parents will sometimes bring children to the library, which has some children’s books on hand if they do come.

NE Campus is home to a children’s center that began in 1974. It is open to the community as well as TCC students, faculty and staff. The center functions as a laboratory school environment, but there is a waiting list.

Assistant professor of child development Pati Cates said the center refers people to the National Association of Early Childhood Programs website.

“That’s what we recommend to families who are looking for quality care for their young children,” she said.

Vesta Martinez, director of student development services, said NW Campus has a Students Who Are Parents organization that has guest speakers during its meetings to help students balance family and college life.

It’s more of a “social support network,” she said.

Administrative assistant Jana Moody said TR Campus has no issues regarding children being left unattended. South Campus police Sgt. Gregory Bowen said parents do not regularly leave their children unattended there.

“It does happen, but it’s not a major problem,” he said. “We talk to the parents, and problem solved.”

SE nursing student Anh Huyen has three children and also works full time. Huyen said she was paying $1,100 a month for child care, and it was difficult to study because she had to watch the clock and fight traffic.

“You have to pick them up and not be late,” she said.

Huyen said her husband now cares for their children so she can better attend college and make good grades.

Rusty Fox, SE Campus student development services vice president, said the issue of child care on SE has been discussed in the past, particularly at student forums.

“The challenge is the cost of quality, credentialed child care, if provided by a college, is usually considerably more than care already available in the community, and more than students want to pay,” he said.

Leaving a child unattended on campus is a citable offense, Fox said. Occasionally, a child will be left unattended in the halls or library. And sometimes a child will be taken to class, but student parents are quick to understand that the policy is for the protection of the children and to maintain the integrity of an academic environment.

“We certainly understand the challenges of being both a student and parent and have such respect for all of our students who juggle and manage this so well,” he said.

Fox said the college remains open to future discussions.

“However, the facts that [child] care is available so close to the college and at reasonable rates, we look first to our community to best address this need,” he said.

A child care center is located west of SE Campus on New York Avenue, Dietrich said.

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