Bill may aid parents in juggling dual roles

Nov. 18, 2005

by ANALIZ GONZALEZ, staff writer

Think Baylor life is a challenge? Try balancing a full load of classes with preparing for law school and taking care of a daughter -- or two.

Lisa Tinkle, a Bridge City junior, does just that.

Tinkle wakes up at 5 a.m. to get her girls ready for school. Then she drives to Baylor for class, comes home to make dinner, helps her children with homework, tucks them in, and finally, cracks open her own books before hopping into bed.

She loves her girls, but because she's a mom she can't take part in many things she would like to. Baby sitters and day cares can be expensive. And if she wanted to take her girls to a Baylor football game, it would cost $30 per child.

Things might be a little easier for parenting students across the nation like Tinkle if the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Act of 2005 passes through Congress.

The bill, presented by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R- North Carolina, on Nov. 7, would provide $10 million for 200 grants to encourage higher education institutions to develop student access to housing, child care, counseling services and maternity coverage among other things.

Danyelle Robinson, a full-time mother of four, also understands how hard it is for parenting students.

Her husband, Daniel Robinson, attends George W. Truett Theological Seminary and has a job.

She said Daniel comes home in the evening and sometimes takes care of the kids so she can "regain some sanity," leaving him with a very busy schedule.

Danyelle said her husband is not alone.

She said she's met several seminary students at Baylor with kids and thinks an office to help student parents would be helpful, especially if it would provide a low-cost or free day care service.

Day care is expensive, and her family has a tight budget despite her husband's job, Robinson said.

Piper Child Development Center, located on 315 Washington Ave., charges between $488 to $650 a month for infants to pre-kindergartners.

Genie Dyer, lecturer in social work, said the bill would be a positive thing at universities and colleges with a large number of parenting students.

"(Texas Woman's University) has had a program for students with children for a long time and do a wonderful job with it," Dyer said. "They offer on-campus child care and their child development majors and education majors get first-hand experience with children."

Pam Smallwood, executive director for Planned Parenthood in Waco, said if the new offices in the educational institutions would help parenting students with child care, it would be a "good thing."

"Young parents need all the help they can get," Smallwood said.

She said she didn't know whether there was a need for such an office at Baylor, but said she knew some of the patients at Planned Parenthood in Waco were Baylor students.

Associate Vice President for Student Life Martha Lou Scott said Baylor would not invest money into developing an office if there wasn't enough need.

"With anything that the university does, we always look into what the need is, and historically, once the university has found a need, it has worked to meet it," Scott said.