Student parents in DCU seeking on-campus childcare are faced with fees of up to €923 a month.
Despite a growing number of students with dependent children attending University in Ireland, affordable on-campus childcare and other supports are difficult to find, according to a recent Irish Times article.
While institutions, including Trinity College Dublin and Dublin Institute of Technology, offer funding programmes for childcare costs DCU offer a lone parent subsidy which is supplied by Student Support and Development however the supplement can only be offered for two semesters, according to the DCU website.
Although there are no official figures available on the proportion of third-level students with dependent children, there are indications that the numbers are growing fast.
With a constant waiting list, DCU Magic Day’s Creche, which is privately run, is at its busiest and some parents already have their children’s names down for 2018.
Ciara Fitzgerald, Manager of DCU Creche said that they currently have 53 children enrolled thoughout all age group rooms with roughly 7 or 8 of these being children of students.
“The majority of children we have here are those of people working on campus. I keep specific places for students who may want to avail of our services however they just don’t look for it”.
When asked whether this could be an issue of expense, Ciara said she was unsure and reiterated that student’s simply did not enquire about the services that the creche provide. She was unaware of any student parenting networks in DCU that provide help to struggling parents however felt that such services would be largely beneficial.
Welfare and Equality Officer Cody Byrne was asked to comment on services available to student parents.
“I have spoken to numerous students including mature students who needed support over the past year however none explicitly related to children,” Byrne said.
The Student Assistant Fund is available in DCU to aid student parents with childcare fees however many are unaware of this option. After rent, utilities and transport, childcare was the fourth-largest category of expenditure for the Student Assistance Fund, an emergency source of funding available to colleges.
Image Credit: DCU.ie