Austin Community College trustees seek more info on child care options

ACC board members heard from Associate Vice President Stephanie Hawley about the Office of Equity and Inclusion's progress on Oct. 2.

ACC board members heard from Associate Vice President Stephanie Hawley about the Office of Equity and Inclusion's progress on Oct. 2.

The Austin Community College board of trustees asked a committee to provide additional child care statistics and data after hearing an initial report Monday.

ACC has a child care lab that serves 44 children at its Eastview campus, but the board of trustees wants to know if more child care options are needed.

"It's a complex issue," trustee Barbara Mink said. "We're asking the committee to go back [and] sort through these questions."

About 3 percent, or 1,306 of 48,000 students, answered a survey in May about child care needs. About 38 percent, or 842 faculty and staff members, also responded.

Here are five takeaways from the report:

1. Many respondents live or work on the outskirts of Austin

The areas around the Hays, Cypress, Round Rock, San Gabriel and Northridge campuses had the most responses.

2. ACC students pay an average of $470 per month for child care

About 80 percent of student respondents said they worked at least part-time. Nearly 30 percent of respondents said their yearly household income was between $25,000 and $49,000.

3. There's a waiting list for the college system's only child care center

The ACC Children's Lab School, established in 1977, serves 44 children between 6 months and 5 years of age. The report found 72 families are on the waiting list.

4. ACC has spent nearly $1.2 million on vouchers for 740 eligible students in the past five years

The vouchers, which pay for part of the childcare service, allow students to choose a child care provider, and ACC contracts directly with the provider for payment.

5. There are 721 child care centers in Austin

The child care committee found 469 child care centers in three to four ZIP codes closest to the ACC campuses.

Following the committee's presentation, the board of trustees asked for several clarifications, additional statistics and cost analyses.

Questions included how students whose children use the child lab services perform academically, what a public-private child care partnership between ACC and an organization such as the YMCA could look like, how students are traveling to child care centers and what the cost of an additional on-campus child care center would be.

"I like the idea of on-campus [child care centers], obviously," trustee Julie Ann Nitsch said. "It helps people who have transportation problems, and it keeps people on campus."

She also suggested looking into whether workforce training or internships could be offered at future ACC child care centers.

The committee will address the board's questions at a future meeting.

"We’re really looking at student success in this," Mink said. "Child care support is part of the overall student success initiative. We’re really looking at the macro picture of how we support our students to be successful."