CCAMPIS grant will help expand child care access for UMSL student parents

CCAMPIS grant

The U.S. Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School program awarded UMSL a $132,000 annual grant for the next four years, which the university will invest in more resources for student parents and expanded hours and programming at the University Child Development Center. (Photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis is deepening its commitment to students who are parents through a new grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School program awarded UMSL a $132,000 annual grant for the next four years – $528,000 total – which it will use to help expand low-income student parents’ access to high-quality child care at the University Child Development Center.

The grant was awarded at the beginning of October and runs through September 2022. Programming from the grant will start taking effect in the spring semester.

UMSL counted 1,411 student parents during the 2017 academic year. Out of that population, 869 were single parents and 815 were Pell Grant eligible.

“It’s absolutely critical for students who have children to have child care,” said Robin Kimberlin, UMSL’s associate director of Student Social Services. “If you don’t have the financial means to get child care on your own, or you don’t have family support or organic options built in, then you simply can’t pursue higher ed. Classes are during the day, in the evening or on the weekend, and it’s just not plausible for a student to successfully move through any academic program. All the research shows it’s absolutely devastating to student parents if they don’t have reliable, consistent access to child care.”

Kimberlin and Lynn Navin, director of the Child Development Center and clinical instructor in the UMSL College of Education, collaborated on the grant proposal.

Navin said UMSL has been a recipient of the CCAMPIS grant before, in 1999 and 2005. During those periods, the proportion of children in the center whose parents were UMSL students rose from 2 to 20 percent.

“I have been at the university 27 years, and I have been talking about child care for students for 27 years,” Navin said. “I probably have emails on my computer from when I started – well, probably not emails then but handwritten notes – of meetings that I’ve had with gender studies, women’s studies, all the places that knew how important it was to provide child care. That’s what we want – to increase student parent population within the center.”

In addition to providing subsidies for low-income student parents to enroll their children at the UCDC, the grant money will go toward adding to the number of children the center can accept during the day as well as adding evening hours from Monday through Thursday and introducing some Saturday options.

The goal is to give student parents the opportunity to have more time on campus, outside of their class hours, to engage in the UMSL experience while their children are receiving high-quality care. The grant also provides for programming to enhance parenting skills and increase utilization of support services on campus and in the community for student parents.

“If you look at student parents and we were only giving them child care during their classes, then they aren’t on par with their non-parenting peers,” said Kimberlin, whose department offers services through the Students Who Are Parents group. “Those other students can go to the Writing Lab and get help, meet with their group, go to office hours, go to a leadership presentation, whereas student parents are having to utilize this resource to only go to class. Lynn and I wanted to make sure that we provided a more holistic approach to give students time for every credit hour that they’re in.”

Kimberlin and Navin said Vice Provost for Student Affairs Curt Coonrod, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Kristin Sobolik and College of Education Dean Ann Taylor were very supportive in the efforts to secure the grant.

“Reliable child care is ultimately one of the very important underlying indicators for student persistence and success,” Navin said. “If we look for us to be meeting the strategic plan of the university and improving retention and persistence rates with that population, this is a really important, foundational piece for them to be successful.”

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