This content was published: October 23, 2017. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.
Single dad, student says childcare essential for college life at PCC
Photos and Story by James Hill
What would Jeff Martinez be doing today if he didn’t have access to daycare at the Sylvania Campus Child Development Center? In all honesty, he said, he doesn’t know.
What is known is that Martinez is well on his way to an associate degree at Portland Community College and eventually a bachelor’s in Business from Portland State University. This impressive journey, that includes a leadership position with Sylvania’s student government and the District Student Council, began in 2015 when he enrolled at PCC after having his daughter accepted into the campus’ daycare.
“Having access to high-quality childcare has allowed me to focus on school,” Martinez said. “It was definitely a deciding factor coming here. The biggest barrier for single parents like me, or parents going back to school is affordable childcare. If my daughter wasn’t in daycare at PCC, I’d have to drop her off at an off-campus facility and make numerous trips a day, which would be very hard. Here, it’s a one-stop shop where everything is centralized.”
PCC has listened to parents like Martinez and wants to have childcare available to students at every comprehensive campus. Right now, only the Rock Creek Campus doesn’t have a childcare center. As part of the 2017 bond measure, the college would build the $7 million Rock Creek Child Development Center.
This new facility would make the Rock Creek Campus more accommodating for current and prospective students with young children. These students, who often struggle to balance parenthood and pursuing their education, could take advantage of an 8,000-square-foot child care facility right on campus. The college would partner with a local provider to offer child development services similar to what is at Cascade and Southeast. The Sylvania Campus provides a lab-run system of daycare with high-quality services for parents combined with a teacher-student learning environment.
It’s an important piece of the bond. For PCC President Mark Mitsui, equitable student success is a big issue for him and the college going forward as the community’s demographics and economics change as the cost of living in Portland skyrockets. In response, PCC continues to develop its childcare network across the college, especially with upgraded facilities that will offer more slots coming online soon at the Sylvania Campus.
Martinez said the resources at PCC like childcare made the difference for him in this difficult time. A low-income, first-generation college student, he uses the free PCC Shuttle occasionally to save on gas to get to his classes, gets free food once a week from the Panther Pantries, and takes advantage of student resource center services and activities. To help with funding, Martinez was awarded Head Start and CCAMPIS grants to fund his daughter’s daycare so he can focus on earning the very first college degree in his family.
“These are opportunities I’ve never had before,” he said. “And, I’m taking advantage of them.”
Eventually, the Southern Oregon native wants to operate a music venue and creative marketing firm when his educational journey ends. Not bad for a man who watched his mom struggle with providing for his family while on disability and wanted to change that status quo, and smash the economic and social barriers to college.
“It has meant everything for me to be able to go to school,” Martinez said. “Having to work full time to pay for childcare leaves little time for school. It’s a cycle I needed to break because we weren’t going anywhere if that continued. Getting her into daycare at PCC has allowed me to go to school full time and get involved on campus.
“The end game now is my daughter doesn’t have to grow up where she can’t take advantage of college herself,” he added. “She’ll benefit from this change where we won’t have to worry about basic things like eating.”
What Would the Bond Do?
The PCC bond measure of $185 million would:
- improve workforce training programs to better align with current and future jobs.
- invest in training for Health and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) programs.
- upgrade safety, security, building longevity and disability access.
If passed, it is estimated to the tax rate of 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for the next 16 years. Learn more about it!