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Childcare for Student Parents: Support for students with children

Juggling seminars and a part-time job is hard enough, but for students with children, studying can be a daunting challenge. Fortunately, the university and Studentenwerk offer many support services to young parents to help them manage their studies and family life.

by Sophie Nagel (text) und Sarah Schultes (film)

Enno and Anna © Nagel/DAAD
Enno and Anna . © Nagel/DAAD

Anna Grenzebach is a single mother in her fifth semester of the bachelor’s programme “Education and Support in Childhood”. During the week, her two-year-old son Enno spends his days at the KIWIS day-care centre operated by the Studentenwerk Giessen. The centre specifically caters to single-mother students like Anna, which is why she received a place for her son on short notice.

The 29-year-old student is very happy that her son can stay at the centre until 6 pm when she occasionally has to attend a compulsory course at university. The long opening hours are a big relief to Anna. Even the drop-off and pick-up times are tailored to the needs of student parents; the doors open at 7:30 in the morning.

Problems with course scheduling

There are, however, courses at the university later than 6 pm. Anna is lucky that her parents live nearby and are happy to take care of Enno. Without Enno’s grandparents, Anna would certainly have a harder time managing her life. She doesn’t receive financial support by BAföG (Federal Student's Assistance Act) and has to work weekends, and that on top of preparing for oral presentations, writing term papers and reading up for seminars and lectures.

Anna finds that she is making faster progress with her studies because of her new duties as a mother. When she became pregnant with Enno, she decided to earn her bachelor’s degree as fast as possible.

Enno at the day-care centre © Nagel/DAAD
Enno at the day-care centre . © Nagel/DAAD

Support from the Studentenwerk

In addition to holiday day-care and a childminder network, student parents at the University of Giessen can also apply for a babysitter allowance. And when the day-care centre is closed, parents can also have their children looked after in parent-child rooms on campus. Anna herself was glad to use this service, which allowed her to attend an important lecture series from 6 to 8 pm. Yet Enno wasn’t very happy with the situation; he had already spent hours in day-care and was now with strangers at a time when other children were getting ready for bed.

Rabea Pfeifer (27) and her eight-year-old daughter Lelia are fortunate to live in a student hall of residence for families located in Bonn-Poppelsdorf . This part of town is a bit more expensive than others, but thanks to public funding, the rental prices are acceptable and the students even have access to a community garden.

Rabea is taking her time with her teacher certification programme. She even took her daughter along with her to Spain for her semester abroad. “According to the International Office, I was the first person who had ever attempted to do that. The International Office naturally helped me apply for Erasmus funding. But I had to find a day-care centre and a flat by myself.”

A research institute at the University of Giessen offers a unique programme which enables doctoral candidates with children to combine their doctoral work and family obligations. Not only do parents receive financial aid, but can also have an assistant to take care of some of the more time-consuming aspects of the job, such as making copies.

Many parents believe that despite the stress, the ideal time for having children is during one’s studies. For one thing, students are much more flexible with their time than full-time employees at a company. In the end, the joy of having a child always makes up for the time management stress that comes with it.