Patrick Acuña is starting his final year as a social ecology major at one of California’s most prestigious universities. It’s in sharp contrast to his nearly 30 years inside state prisons on a life without parole sentence.
In the year since his release, Acuña transitioned between two historically dichotomous institutions: the prison he believed he would die in and University of California, Irvine, brimming with opportunities for a man who completed high school while in juvenile hall decades ago.
Carissa Vazquez knows the statistics are not in her favor. She is a single mother of two pursuing a college degree. Despite her determination, there are times when she questions her ability to forge a better future for herself and her young son and daughter.
But Vazquez says her children provide the inspiration and motivation to continue on. Los Angeles Mission College is helping, too, with resources and support to keep Vazquez and other single mothers committed to their academic dreams.
Colleges and universities across the country used federal pandemic relief funds to provide mental health counseling, stave off financial losses, clear overdue tuition balances, and offer emergency aid for students facing housing, employment, and food insecurities.
That money is now gone, but the lasting impact of the programs seeded with it continues.
Today's college students face significant challenges in accessing basic needs. A key basic need for student parents—approximately 1 in 5 students—is child care. Student parents need child care during class, study time, and work hours, since almost 60 percent work full time.
Finding affordable, quality child care is a constant source of stress for parenting students, causing many to slow down or give up on their pursuit of upward mobility and education.
Child-care providers who relied on federal pandemic aid during the pandemic are about to be in a really hard place as that money officially runs out. As a result, parents may have to start paying higher fees for care and teachers might start making even lower wages.
Doris Irizarry has operated a residential-based family day-care center for more than 25 years. Now, she is thinking about closing her doors for good. She discusses the challenges and the future of child care in this interview.