Child care shortage in San Diego weighs on SDSU student-parents

San+Diego+State+student-parents+have+had+less+resources+available+for+their+children+since+the+start+of+the+pandemic.

Sara Rott

San Diego State student-parents have had less resources available for their children since the start of the pandemic.

by Sara Rott and Eugenie Budnik

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many businesses being short staffed, including in the child care industry. San Diego County parents have been feeling the effects of this as they look for child care for their children. 

This shortage of space comes as the result of child care workers grappling with whether or not to return to work after having left their positions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many child care workers are also choosing not to return to the profession due to low wages. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for childcare workers in San Diego is roughly $31,000 a year. With rising inflation, those previously working in the child care industry are turning to other sectors in order to support themselves and their families. 

The shortage has been especially hard hitting for San Diego State students who are also parents. 

“When we weren’t sure if we would be going back fully in-person or not, I had to adjust my schedule according to my son’s needs for my first semester at State [SDSU],” second year music recording technology and audio design transfer student Paul Aguirre said.“I modified my schedule three times to make it sink in perfectly.” 

Aguirre, who also does work study on campus as a stage manager for the music department, has an eight-year-old son.

The afterschool program Aguirre’s son attends had been paused, which limited the courses Aguirre could sign up for at SDSU. He has altered his schedule to ensure he is only taking classes while his son is in school.

“I couldn’t take any courses after 2:30 p.m., which made it very difficult for my studies,”Aguirre said. “A lot of the courses I need pertain to a late afternoon schedule.” 

SDSU has a nonprofit children’s center on campus which services the child care needs of its students, faculty and staff, as well as the surrounding community. SDSU students have priority in receiving care, however, the center only provides care for pre-school aged children.

Child development senior and chair of the Associated Students Children’s Center Committee Wendy Verbyla, is a parent herself. 

The center has struggled since current COVID-19 restrictions do not allow them to rotate teachers or hire student interns. They have also had to adjust how food is distributed to the children.

“In the children’s center before COVID, it also relied a lot on the internships from the Child Development Department, so students cannot participate at the moment,” Verbyla said. 

Child development majors have also been adversely affected by the current restrictions since they are missing out on valuable firsthand experience they would usually get within their coursework.

For the time being, parents are not allowed inside the classrooms where they used to walk with the teachers and spend time with their children before going to class.

“If our children wanted to do the book, we would sit down with them and read the book and work with them that’s something that a lot of parents missed,” Verbyla said. 

Additionally, student-parents and their children are missing out on family events put on by the Children’s Center Committee and SDSU’s Student Parents and Allies Association (SPAA). 

Verbyla and Aguirre have been working with the Children’s Center Committee and SPAA to make the SDSU campus more accessible to student parents. 

One of the only resources that remains available on campus for parents and their children to gather is the lactation room located in the Conrad Preby’s Student Union.

“Having some type of resource center would be really, really cool and beneficial where we can study and at the same time, have a kids library for our children,” Augirre said. “Have a connection, like a family outside of a family.”

Parents who are in need of resources or assistance can visit the university’s official website for student parents here

SDSU students interested in getting involved with the Student Parent and Allies Association can contact sdsuEOPsppa@gmail.com for more information.