More than 4.8 million undergraduate students in the United States are parents, and many of them are enrolled at community colleges. In fact, 17 percent of community college students are single parents. A lack of affordable child care can lead some students to drop out.
The federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant provides funding to help colleges and universities support or establish on-campus child care programs that help low-income parents pursue a postsecondary degree. The program is relatively small, funded at $15 million, but has made a big difference in the lives of some students.
Texas’ San Antonio College (SAC) just announced that it received more than $1.2 million to renew its CCAMPIS grant. That means that qualifying low-income SAC student parents will pay only $15-$20 a week for child care on campus, instead of the typical $160-$215 per week. Those SAC student parents are required to attend parenting workshops and they must volunteer in the Early Childhood Center for four hours.
“We want them to learn about their children to help them have better interaction with them,” Ellen Marshall, SAC chair of social work, sociology, early childhood studies, and history, said in a release.
“I can’t say enough how grateful I am for this program,” said Michael De La Cerda, a pre-nursing major whose daughter is enrolled at the Early Childhood Center. “It has allowed me to go to college and concentrate on my schooling and my grades. I never felt that my daughter has been in better care. And everybody here treats me like family.”
Funding for CCAMPIS, which is run by the U.S. Education Department, may be eliminated in the 2018 federal budget, however, which could leave 5,000 student parents in the lurch. Already, fewer than half of community colleges have daycares on campus — and that number appears to be declining, according to a January 2017 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Those that do offer child care often have a waiting list.
But some two-year institutions are getting creative to help student parents get to graduation.
Read the full story at the AACC 21st-Century Center.