Bakersfield College's child care center that serves students will stop accepting children under the age of 2 effective Jan. 1.

The change means 15 children will have to be placed elsewhere.

The Bakersfield College Child Development Center is theoretically open to the public, but priority is given to BC students who are parents.

Licensed preschools are subject to state regulations that require minimum staff ratios of one adult for every four infants.

Unfortunately, parent fees weren't covering the expense of maintaining that level of staffing, and the college could no longer afford to subsidize the cost of care, so parents were notified Nov. 1 that the center would discontinue care for infants next year, said spokeswoman Amber Chiang.

"With all the state budget cuts, it was just too expensive," she said.

The child care center was siphoning off limited resources better set aside for education, so "it became one of those lesser-of-two-evils-type decisions," Chiang said. "You hate to do it, but it does come to that sometimes."

Chiang said she had no way of knowing if any of the parents would be forced to drop out of college for lack of child care.

"Unfortunately that didn't factor into our decision," she said, but added that all the affected parents had been referred to Community Connection for Child Care, a program administered by the Office of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools that matches parents with licensed child care options in their area.

Program manager Lisa Duncan-Purcell said any parent of a child younger than 2 -- "student or otherwise" -- will have trouble finding child care because there are few options in town to begin with.

"There aren't a lot of places that offer it, and the places that do are very expensive," she said. "We know that those parents are going to have a challenge."