Grant helping students pay for childcare

September 24, 2017

Public Relations

A half-million-dollar grant awarded to Palo Alto College will help student parents pay for childcare at the College’s Ray Ellison Family Center (REFC) over the next four years. 

Palo Alto College was selected to receive funding under the U.S. Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Program, which supports the participation of limited-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based childcare services. The grant will be in the amount of $137,337 for the first year, and is anticipated to last a total of four years. 

Approximately 20 limited-income student parents will be selected for the “Parent Scholar Program” and receive the grant funding each semester. Eligibility requirements for the Parent Scholar Program include being enrolled at Palo Alto College, maintaining a 2.0 GPA, and having a degree plan. Funding provided through the Parent Scholar Program will cover the majority of the cost of on-campus, full-day, year-round childcare at the REFC, with students only paying $25 to $35 per child, per week. 

“The ultimate goal of this project is that the parents graduate with their associate degrees,” said Jennifer Flores, coordinator of the REFC. “Even if the parent only has class two days a week, enrolling the children the full five days gives parents those other three days to meet with their advisor, get their homework done, or maybe get more involved in student organizations.” 

Surveys of Palo Alto College students have shown that “caring for dependents” is a likely cause for student parents to drop out of college, and, furthermore, that few student parents are able to take advantage of free campus resources like advising and tutoring. 

“The focus is on making that connection between the REFC and the College, making sure that our parents are encouraged to go meet with their advisor and stay on track,” said Flores. “Palo Alto College has so many different resources available to students… While they’re out doing things, they can know that their child is here at the REFC receiving high-quality care.”

The REFC holds accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the highest level of accreditation for early childhood centers. The REFC cares for children ages 18 months to five years, and they are taught structure, schedule, and social and fine motor skills that will set them ahead for kindergarten, according to Flores. This gives student parents the peace of mind that their children are well cared for while they are focusing on building a future for themselves and their family. 

The deadline to apply for the spring 2018 Parent Scholar Program is Friday, January 5, 2018. Selected families will be notified Monday, January 8, 2018. To view the Parent Scholar Program CCAMPIS application, including eligibility requirements and instructions for applying, click here. If your child is not already enrolled at the REFC, view the Enrollment Application by clicking here.