FILE - Virus Outbreak Child Care

In this May 27, 2020 photo, Aaron Rainboth, a teacher at the Frederickson KinderCare daycare center in Tacoma, Wash., wears a mask as he takes the temperature of Benjamin Simpson, 4, after he complained of feeling hot following an outdoor play period, but found it to be normal. 

(The Center Square) – There is a push to allow Illinois community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree program for child care.

Illinois is one of 23 states to allow community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees. In 2009, Illinois established a collaborative grant program to deliver bachelor’s degree programs offered by four-year institutions at a location closer to students served by community colleges.

During a virtual news conference Wednesday by Illinois Action for Children, state Rep. Cristina Pacione-Zayas said the change would benefit thousands of Illinoisans.

“This is much larger than any individual or one single partnership,” Pacione-Zayas said. “This is a systemic issue and this also part of our economic recovery in this state.”

There is growing policy attention these days on expanded access to higher education and the role community colleges play.

Enrollment at community colleges around the state dropped nearly 14% from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020.

Steven Nacco, president of Danville Area Community College, said a person shouldn’t have to pay thousands of dollars in tuition for a job that doesn’t pay that well.

“It makes no sense for somebody to be in a program where you can get a degree, even an associate degree, in early childhood development and not have a living wage,” Nacco said.

Last year, about 1,000 community colleges nationwide enrolled more than 5.5 million students. It is estimated half of all bachelor’s degree students in the U.S. previously attended a community college.

“If you go to a community college, we are affordable,” Nacco said. “At most at $5,000 a year, they can earn this degree and can have a better life.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.