DVC student parents are offered options in child care


Gustavo Vasquez

Student Michelle Barahona picks up her two daughters, Keyla and Kianna after school on Jan. 30, 2014. Barahona is one of many student parents who benefit from the early childhood education program.

Benjamin Davidson, Managing editor

Having a babysitter is one thing – but knowing your child is in good hands is another.

Being a student parent is demanding, and one of the more prominent concerns is being able to have a place for your child to stay during the day. For the student parents of DVC, this can be achieved without even leaving campus.

The Early Childhood Education Center at DVC is a student lab, as well as a fully operational child care facility where the children of student parents are free to play, learn and expand their minds while doing inside and outside activities, at the cost that students can afford.

DVC student Michelle Barahona is grateful for this program.

“Being able to have a program like this is amazing for me, and for other parents as well,” she said. “For me I wouldn’t have been able to get my A.S., A.A., and A.S.T. if it weren’t for this program.”

With a campus like DVC, children are able to do many things that a normal day care center could never offer – ranging from walks to the duck pond, to having experienced students from the dental program teach kids about hygiene. Other campus related field trips are held as well, promoting outside play and getting the kids in touch with their environment.

Joan Symonds has been the director of the program for over 20 years, and has a vested interest in the center due her one-on-one relationship with the kids, and all of the student teachers and aides that work within the program.

“We have people from all over the world here, and at one point I think I counted 16 languages,” Symonds said. “There is no doubt in my mind that it (the exposure to diversity) has made me a better teacher.”

Not only is this center a benefit to the community, but it incorporates other areas of study on campus as well. Linguistics, psychology, horticulture and culinary arts are just a handful of places that the center interacts with on campus.

Tim Leong, the Contra Costa Community College school district’s public communications officer, described the school’s program development as a combination of student interest and community needs.

“If community needs were not met, the students would be studying for degrees to get jobs that wouldn’t be available,” Leong said.

In order to have your child be a part of the program, all student parents are required to take a tandem parenting class that is usually held at night, to allow for flexibility of schedule.

Rates for the program range from $1.75 to $2.50 an hour, depending on the age of the child, with some optional fees for lunch, and snacks etc.Being able to visit your little ones in between class breaks is just another aspect that makes the program so unique.

According to Symonds, there is an enrollment waitlist that is re-created every semester.

“The waitlist is kept for the current semester we are in,” Symonds said. “Being at a community college, people come and go, so the time varies.”

Elizabeth Bowman, 36, is a nursing major who is getting ready to transfer in the fall.

“Being able to visit my small fry is what gets me through the day sometimes,” Bowman said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do when I transfer.”