UMKC Students’ Childcare Challenges

UMKC students who are also parents are facing a crisis that is not known to many. Class schedules are often inflexible, and professors are not always tolerant of children being present in their classes in the event that childcare becomes precarious. This leaves parents with two main options: UMKC’s own childcare, Berkley, or another nearby childcare center. But are either of these really a viable option for a college student and parent? It’s no secret that childcare is expensive. But what does expensive mean? To some people a $50 pair of shoes is expensive, so where does the cost of childcare fall on the cost spectrum?

Berkely, UMKC’s on-campus child care resource, offers care for children from infancy to preschool. The cost full day caretaking, that would likely be needed by full-time students, especially if they also work, ranges between $821-$1170 a month depending on the child’s age. For a five month semester, this adds up to $4,105 - $5,850. The cost of childcare, therefore, is more expensive than in-state tuition for a full-time student ($4,057). Many already need to take out student loans simply to be able to afford their academic tuition, and the cost of childcare more than doubles the cost of attending school for student parents. Childcare, therefore, presents a significant financial barrier.

If you can afford to attend school and pay for childcare, that’s great! But there might not be a place for your child at Berkley. It’s not as simple as enrolling your child. Applications must be submitted, for a fee, to be entered into a waiting pool. Your child will most likely not be automatically admitted. According to their website, when a spot opens for a child, they look at the waiting pool and then induct a child based on “diversity, age, and gender distribution and time in the waiting pool.” There is no time in which a place can be guaranteed for any child. This makes the task of finding a childcare center more difficult, even if it is within budget, as many centers hold similar policies and practices.

If Berkley is full or not a viable option due to cost or capacity, there are a few childcare facilities within a few miles of campus. Below is a breakdown of a couple of nearby childcare facilities and their rates, hours, and distance. 

  1. Purple Dragon Pre-school

    1. Open from 7 am to 5:30 pm

    2. 1.9 miles away from campus

    3. $48 per day per child, paid monthly, which adds up to roughly $960 a month

    4. $130 enrollment fee

  2. YMCA

    1. Open from 7 am to 6 pm (early childcare)

    2. 2.5 miles away from campus

    3. Preschool classes and costs at this KCMO location ranges from $70-$100 a week, which totals to $1,400-$2,000 per semester.

    4. Please note that services and costs vary by YMCA locations.

A common trend seen in all these childcare facilities, aside from the high cost, is that tuition is charged regardless of whether or not the child is present at the center that day. If a student’s child falls ill, they not only miss class or work, but they would still be financially responsible for paying for childcare when they keep their child home. If a child gets sick while at a care center, there is often a time set by which the child must be picked up. At Berkley, for example, there is a “one-hour deadline for sick child pickup,” which might be difficult for student parents who are in class or at work to meet.

All of these factors are barriers to students parents receiving their education. Balancing work, classes, and a social life is difficult enough for most students, and adding parenting into the mix can be challenging. With awareness can hopefully come solutions.