Temple student Desiree LaMarr knows the struggle of being a single mother all too well.
LaMarr, 30, is a junior elementary education major and also a mother of five daughters. She is one of three Temple students and 43 students from the area who are currently being helped by Family Care Solutions, Inc., an organization which provides resources and services to young parents who attend college.
“Without them, it would not have been possible for me to return to school,” LaMarr said. “My total yearly expense for childcare was $8,000.”
The $8,000 refers only to daycare for her two youngest children, which is the bill Family Care Solutions now helps her pay.
Sherrill Mosee, the president of Family Care Solutions, is currently working on a book called Professor, Can I Bring My Baby to Class? For this book, she has been compiling stories of young women from all over the country who have successfully coped with motherhood and academia simultaneously.
Mosee said she came up with the idea after visiting many high schools and noticing that young mothers seemed to need a little extra push and support to seek out higher education.
“I learned that a lot of young people didn’t believe they could go to college because they have a child,” Mosee said. “I felt compelled to reach out to that population in particular, [and] I hope they can see themselves in these stories.”
In collaboration with Family Care Solutions, Temple received the Childcare Access Means Parents in School Scholarship in the past, but lost funding in 2005 due to major federal budget cuts.
The only schools in the area with students who still benefit from the CCAMPIS grant are the Community College of Philadelphia and Manor College, a two-year school in Jenkintown.
“I was told that it’s going to be available [again] in 2009, but that’s really up to the federal administration – Congress and the federal government,” Mosee said. “If it becomes available, Temple will decide whether they want to apply again. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, because they still have students who need childcare assistance.”
Temple junior Talia Barrows is a student in the dance program and a mother of two. She said Family Care Solutions was the factor that determined her decision to go to school.
After her daughter spent almost the first two years in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia due to in-utero complications, the father left, citing that he wasn’t “cut out” to handle the stress of being a dad.
“I knew I needed to finish my bachelor’s to have long term security for my kids,” Barrows wrote in an e-mail. “When she was three, I went back. She has rehabilitated so well and is doing awesome, [and] I can only match her success – that is what keeps me going.”
Alycia Gonzales, a sophomore art history major who currently attends Camden County Community College but will go back to Moore College of Art and Design for the spring semester, also receives aid from Family Care Solutions.
Gonzales said she was just about ready to call it quits and drop out of college due to the stress from balancing school and childcare responsibilities when a financial aid officer from Moore gave her the information about Family Care Solutions.
She advised young parents to persevere through tough times.
“Just keep trying, it’s totally possible,” Gonzales said. “A lot of people think having children is a hindrance, but it’s not. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s definitely not the end of hope.”
LaMarr, Barrows and Gonzales, along with many other young mothers from across the U.S., will contribute their stories to Professor, Can I Bring My Baby to Class?, which is set to hit shelves in summer 2008. In addition to the stories, the book will tackle issues that commonly deter young parents from obtaining higher education degrees.
“We’re really excited about the project, and we’re getting some great stories,” Mosee said. “I’ve been getting calls from all over, from Michigan to California.”
Morgan A. Zalot can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.