Duckworth proposes increased funding for on-campus child care


Xavier Ortega / The DePaulia

Sen. Tammy Duckworth spoke about her new proposal to create child care programs at universities during a press conference at Daley Plaza on Friday, May 10.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth unveiled her plan to increase a federal grant for colleges to create child care programs for students with children Friday, and spoke directly to DePaul, which does not have child care facilities for students on campus.

DePaul only offers daycare facilities at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center during children’s hours, which are Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon, and the parent must stay inside the Ray.

“I would personally be happy to speak to any of the officials at the university to explain to them why it is so critical to provide child care,” Duckworth said at a press conference at Daley Plaza. “For a university like DePaul that has a larger population, they’ll be able to get a little more money. And it’ll allow them to provide child care on a sliding scale, in order of ability to pay.

“This is something that is normally the right thing to do, but it is something that would encourage more people who may not enroll, who would say, ‘Now there’s child care, now I can actually manage to do this.’ It’s a good decision, both in terms of the right thing to do for their students, but also will encourage more students to enroll at DePaul.”

Duckworth cited her own experiences being a working mother as the reason for the package of legislation, which also includes provisions which would help families pay for diapers and make workplaces more family-friendly.

On April 18, the Senate unanimously voted to change its rules to allow senators to bring babies into its chamber. The next day, Duckworth’s newborn child became the first baby to be welcomed on the floor of the Senate.

Duckworth’s legislation, the Expanding On-Campus Child Care to Help Parents Succeed Act, would dramatically increase the funding for an existing program. The Department of Education had $33,323,408 in funding for the grant in 2018. Duckworth’s bill would increase its funding to $200 million.

“In 2013, a DePaul committee did explore on-campus child care and the CCAMPIS program, and at the time decided not to move forward,” said James Stewart, the director of adult, veteran and commuter student affairs.

196 colleges nationwide received the grant money to establish on-campus child care facilities, with an average award of $170,017, according to the Department of Education.

Eight colleges in Illinois received the grant money in 2018, including the University of Illinois network, Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Five colleges in the City Colleges network also offer child care facilities.

Duckworth’s bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Dick Durbin, Bob Casey, Kirsten Gillibrand and Chris Van Hollen.

Cindy San Miguel, the assistant director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said the proposal will be helpful for families.

“As someone who found themselves pregnant in graduate school, with no financial support, utilizing services such as Medicaid and WIC, I personally appreciate how these policies can have a positive impact on families,” San Miguel said.