Female Students Bear Weight of Hard-to-Access Childcare in NYC

HUNTER COLLEGE–After attending class at Hunter College, Kamila Espinosa rushes home. Her 2-year-old niece waits eagerly for her to return, and Espinosa worries about the toddler crying in her absence. When she arrives, her niece is at the front door.

Instead of attending evening classes, Espinosa and her mother look after the toddler while her parents are at work. Espinosa baths, clothes, and feeds her. Changes her diapers and does her hair. Occasionally, Espinosa will try to do homework, but her niece craves attention. She will try to “help” her aunt by pressing random keys on Espinosa’s laptop. To keep her niece occupied, Espinosa gives her a tablet to watch shows on.

“Even though I love my niece to death, it’s somewhat stressful taking care of a kid while taking classes,” Espinosa says. She’s had to miss key parts of her college experience, including lectures.

With her mother, Espinosa takes care of her niece when her cousin and her cousin’s husband are not available and preschool is not in session. With the costs of private daycare becoming too high for parents to bear and public assistance remaining out of reach, Espinosa has become their go-to person for childcare.