WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) this week joined Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to introduce H.R. 5475, the Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers (PROSPECT) Act. This important legislation would invest heavily in federal grants supporting childcare for student-parents at community colleges and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI’s).
There are over 4 million college students in the United States who are raising children while attending school. Although the number of student parents has been on the rise, the share of community colleges and four-year institutions with campus child care has been in decline. In New Jersey, 46 percent of all residents live in a child care desert, according to the Center for American Progress. The PROSPECT Act would help New Jersey students enrolled in community colleges fight costly barriers to degree completion and make sure more young people have the tools they need to learn and succeed.
“Today, many student-parents are forced to choose work over their education because they cannot afford child care,” said Congressman Norcross, a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. “Access to quality, affordable child care for college students impacts the strength of our economy and the diversity of our workforce. The PROSPECT Act will help provide student-parents with a level playing field. South Jersey is a leader in higher education, and this legislation will ensure that parents, their children and educators are afforded the resources and opportunities they need to succeed.”
“I was a student-parent while I pursued my bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate degrees. I know first hand the struggles of being a young parent, while trying to study and earn a degree,” said Congresswoman Hayes, a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor. “The PROSPECT Act would provide student-parents with much-needed assistance, which removes one more barrier to success. I thank Senator Booker and Congressman Norcross for joining me in this effort to support student-parents.”
“Today’s college students are faced with realities that are very different than the idyllic assumptions we have of them,” said Senator Booker. “Millions are raising kids and have enrolled in college to improve their life circumstances for their children, but too many are forced to drop out because quality child care is unavailable or unaffordable, leaving them without a degree and saddled with student debt. This legislation will address this crisis by investing in campus child care and infant-toddler educator preparation programs, making our college campuses better equipped to help today’s students succeed.”
The PROSPECT Act is endorsed by the following organizations: American Federation of Teachers (AFT), CLASP, Education Reform Now – Advocacy, Generation Hope, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), National Black Child Development Institute, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Public Advocacy for Kids, UNCF, UnidosUS and Zero to Three.
“Representative Jahana Hayes’ bill addresses two essential family needs – the cost of child care, and the need to meet the appetite children have to learn and thrive,” said Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers. “Children are always learning, particularly in the months and first few years of life, which means finding ways to help nurture this learning will help the children who receive that. At the same time child care costs pose an undue burden for working parents that immediately hamstring kids whose parents work to earn a living. Child care for infants and toddlers costs parents roughly 60 percent more than child care for a 3- or 4-year-old. Finding and affording child care is even harder for parents who are in college themselves. Rep. Hayes’ Preparing and Resourcing Our Student Parents and Early Childhood Teachers Act takes bold steps to address the reality that in today’s economy, most parents are working parents, and many are also in school. It will make infant and toddler child care more affordable and accessible on college campuses, enabling student parents to finish their degrees and access a better a better life for their families. By funding high-quality child care programs with well prepared and compensated early childhood educators, this bill helps parents and educators address take care of themselves, and their families.”
“In 1999, I started as a full time freshman and teen mother at the College of William & Mary, struggling to find childcare for my three-month-old daughter while adapting to the new world of college and the academic rigor of a prestigious school,” said Nicole Lynn Lewis, Founder and CEO of Generation Hope. “I founded Generation Hope in 2010 to ensure young, parenting college students have all of the supports that I lacked, and the PROSPECT Act builds upon this work in an innovative way by providing childcare and opportunities for students across the country who are working incredibly hard to become college graduates.”
“Every student deserves a fair chance at completing a college degree and pursuing their American Dream,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of UNCF. “This is something that HBCUs know all too well given their unique mission and continued efforts to ensure that our neediest of students are not ignored. The PROSPECT Act builds on the invaluable approach lead by HBCUs to make sure students with children are also taken care of and able to achieve their dreams. UNCF is proud to support such common-sense legislation and urges Congress to act swiftly and pass the PROSPECT Act.”
“Latinos are enrolling in college in record numbers. But support services are needed to help them finish on time, such as expanded access to quality early childhood education for student-parents,” said Eric Rodriguez, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at UnidosUS. “The PROSPECT Act will lift up entire families by expanding child care at college campuses, helping with college completion and providing young children a strong start in early education and life.”