About one in five college students in the U.S. are raising children, with 4.3 million of 20 million enrolled students in the 2019-2020 academic year being student parents, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
At UCCS, the Family Development Center is one of the primary resources available to student parents, offering full-time and part-time early childhood education on a UCCS-compatible schedule.
The FDC is open year-round to children starting at age 1 and walking through preschool, with a summer camp option also available to children 5-10 years old. UCCS students, faculty, staff and alumni receive enrollment priority over other community members, according to Katie Engler, associate director at the FDC.
“The cost depends on the parent’s affiliation to UCCS and the number of days their child attends school. We offer full time and part time options,” Engler wrote via email. “Our parents who are students pay the lowest tuition. We also offer a FDC Child Care Scholarship to any parent who is a UCCS student to help with child care costs.”
In addition to being a mother of two, Nicole Tugg is a student pursuing her master’s degree and working as a program director for the UCCS Alumni Relations and Annual Giving team. She enrolled her 3-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son part-time at the FDC but soon switched to full-time.
“[My son] just had very different days when he was there as opposed to at his little in-home daycare. You could tell he was just so stimulated and happy and excited to be at the Family Development Center,” Tugg said.
She described the caring and communicative attitude of the staff as a significant factor in deciding her choice for childcare.
“I would say the biggest difference between [the FDC] and anything else I’ve seen is the people there. The staff is truly incredible,” Tugg said.
“They just keep you up to date on everything, if someone gets sick in the classroom, what the meals are going to be, what they’ll be learning in each class. They send you videos and photos throughout the day. While they’re taking care of your kids, they’re taking care of you as well,” she said.
Tugg also highlighted the FDC’s mission as a learning center rather than a daycare and how the staff has encouraged her children’s emotional development.
“It’s really not like they’re just babysitting our kids, they’re really enriching them. My daughter comes home and mentions using her big words. It very much allows them to get in tune with themselves. As small kids, tantrums are natural and things like that, but they have safe spaces in the classroom, not timeout, somewhere they can go chill,” she said.
The FDC’s full-time availability and synchronous schedule with UCCS make it an ideal option, according to Tugg.
“It goes up until the end of the workday and it allows me a lot of freedom in that sense to be able to work, even from home during these crazy times. Working from home with small children is no easy task, so the fact that they’re still open and they follow the UCCS schedule is huge,” she said.
“[On Presidents’ Day] we didn’t have the day off, so they didn’t have the day off. That’s really helpful, as opposed to other places that are like, ‘Hey, we’re closed, sorry, good luck,’” she said.
“I think it’s a great resource that students should really look at,” Tugg said. “It’s not the least expensive option for childcare, but it’s probably one of the best.”
Student parents and other UCCS affiliates pay a $55 annual registration fee and can enroll their children at any time in the year, according to the FDC’s rates sheet. Monthly rates vary by age and enrollment length, though students generally pay $20-$40 less than other UCCS affiliates across categories.
For full-time monthly enrollment, student rates range from $1,289 for older preschool children at 4 to 5 years old, to $1,394 for toddlers 1 to 2 years old.
For Monday/Wednesday/Friday enrollment, rates in the same categories range from $860 to $929. For Tuesday/Thursday enrollment, the rates range from $574 to $619. Drop-in rates for student parents range from $66 to $71.
A multiple-child discount offers 10% off the lowest tuition rate per additional child, and the FDC provides need-based scholarships.
The regular program runs from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and includes breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack.
The FDC is located at 1425 Austin Bluffs Parkway, across the street from central campus. For more information or to schedule a tour, parents can contact the FDC at 719-255-3483 or see their website here. They can also email Engler at [email protected].