The University of Michigan-Flint Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) has been awarded a $500,000 grant to help students cover childcare costs while they attend classes.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education is over four years. To support the participation of more low-income parents in higher education, the U.S. Department of Education awarded nearly $9.2 million to 58 post-secondary institutions to establish or support campus-based child care services.
Funded under the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, awards can be used for child care services for all age groups: infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Students eligible to receive services for their children through CCAMPIS must be eligible for Pell grants, which are awarded based on financial need. The funding is based on the amount of Pell grants provided to students at the university.
The amount awarded for this next year is $132,564, with $94,500 going directly to Pell eligible college students to pay up to 80% of their child's tuition at the ECDC.
To better serve students who attend evening classes, the ECDC will expand its operating hours to 6 a.m. through 10 p.m., effective winter semester.
"We are excited to offer evening care and hope that the campus embraces the extended hours in our nationally accredited program, which incidentally is the only birth to age 12 accredited program in Genesee County," said Della Becker-Cornell, ECDC director.
Students who are parents with young children say the grant could help make their life a little less stressful.
"Relief, overwhelming joy, and a deep gratitude overcame my entire being upon hearing the incredible news of this grant," that was the reaction from nursing student Jane Spurlock. Jane is the mother of four children, the youngest is 21 months. "This grant means that I can put the money saved into my gas tank, more produce into our diet, possibly swimming lessons, bills, and ultimately it will reduce my stress."
For another student, the grant announcement brought tears of joy.
"When I read the email about the grant that ECDC received, I honestly could not believe it. Tears filled my eyes, my heart was overjoyed and overwhelmed," recalled social work major Damesha Jackson. "Words cannot express how much this will help my family. I am forever grateful and thankful for this grant."
The ECDC is part of the School of Education and Human Services (SEHS). Interim Dean Robert Barnett said the grant is the largest ever secured in the history of SEHS.
"Not only will it help a large number of our UM-Flint students who are parents, but it will also help with evening childcare issues for those who take classes late in the day," said Barnett. "The grant is significant beyond the immediate as well. Della and her staff have been working closely with the education department faculty to bring our teacher preparation curriculum more meaningfully and visibly into the ECDC."
According to Barnett, education students are engaged in pre-service teaching activities that include everything from observations to research to hands-on classroom experiences with the ECDC teaching staff. He sees the ECDC becoming a multi-purpose resource for UM-Flint's teacher candidates.