The University Record, February 18, 2002

Grant to help child care needs of student parents

By Laurel Thomas Gnagey

A recent Pound House morning found Tasha Thomas (bottom, left) building her friendship with Cal Tesar. Joshua Nacht (above) explores with an elephant. Facilitator Lisa Skelton (background) straightens up. (Photos by Marcia Ledford, U-M Photo Services)
U-M has been awarded a four-year, $237,000 U.S. Department of Education grant to help undergraduate student parents with child care costs and availability. The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant represents the beginning of a more comprehensive strategy for meeting the special needs of students with children and helps address access to quality programs and affordability of child care.

A major concern identified in the report of a special Student Parent Task Force is the actual shortage of child care providers, particularly those who care for infants and toddlers. Currently there is a chronic shortage of child care spaces for infants in the Ann Arbor area.

One objective of the grant program will be to recruit and train up to 15 child care providers over four years to open state-licensed family child care homes, says Beth Sullivan, policy advocate, Center for the Education of Women. At least two of the providers are expected to be located in North Campus Family Housing. The grant will pay for training the new providers and for helping them with licensing and accreditation.

A second objective of the plan is to help make child care more affordable by boosting the amount of assistance available through an existing child care subsidy fund. U-M currently disburses approximately $225,000 a year to student parents for help with child care costs. Money from the Dept. of Ed. grant will increase subsidies available to Pell-eligible undergraduates by $137,000 over four years.

Fees for full-time enrollment in U-M’s four child care centers range between $8,400 and $10,500 per year. Off-campus care varies but is costly, as well, with Ann Arbor having the distinction of being the most expensive city in the state for child care. “The cost of enrolling a child full-time in a U-M center exceeds the cost of tuition for an instate undergraduate student,” says Leslie de Pietro, director of the Work/Life Resource Center.

Although CCAMPIS is targeted toward undergraduates, de Pietro says it will benefit the entire campus. “We are very excited about this grant because it will provide the resources to increase the number of child care options available for undergraduate and graduate students, staff and faculty,” she says. The grant will expand overall access to child care by opening more spaces and centers in areas where students live, de Pietro explains, thereby increasing options for all members of the community. She says the additional child care providers could ultimately result in spaces for 40 or more children. In addition, undergraduate students will be given improved access to day care space in the University’s four existing child care centers that serve students.