One in six students attending Stanislaus State is not only juggling the workload that comes with their classes, but the challenges that come with being a parent as well, according to University President Ellen Junn. This makes on-campus childcare all the more important, and a federal investment of over a quarter of a million dollars into the university’s Child Development Center will ensure more parents can earn degrees.
The $273,266 in funding comes through the Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program, which will allow the CDC at Stanislaus State to expand from its current capacity of 30 children to 120.
“This grant will provide much needed support to help those students persist and graduate while launching their own children on a path to college,” Junn said. “We are excited and grateful that this grant will allow us to increase access to high-quality child care for student-parents as well as provide individualized plans to address student-parent needs.”
Rep. Josh Harder brought Stanislaus State’s attention to the grant, helped the university apply and wrote a letter of support to the Department of Education in June to ensure the funding was made available.
In his letter, Harder pointed out the university’s demographics and need for the grant, citing “Opportunity Zones” like Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties as areas that lack affordable, high-quality childcare for its low-income communities.
“Every couple months, we see a viral video of a professor holding a baby in class because the parent couldn’t find or struggled to afford a babysitter — it’s nice to see educators help, but we should do even more to make sure student parents can balance the priorities in their lives,” Harder said. “Childcare costs about as much as going to UC or CSU every year — and we need to do more to make sure student parents have a safe and enriching place for their kids to go so they can get to class and study.”
The CDC is a licensed laboratory school where students in the university’s Child Development Program plan and implement instructional programming for children ages two months to five years old, all under the guidance and supervision of university faculty. Faculty, staff, students and families in the community pay a tuition fee for either a half day or full day, and their children are cared for in an environment that stimulates cognitive, social, emotional and physical development; helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem; develops personal identities and establishes multicultural perspectives. The site also serves as a learning lab, helping students bridge developmental theory with practice through observation, applications and research.
“This grant will also provide our students convenient and high-quality on-campus care and additional academic and parenting resources that will support their timely graduations and help our students be successful students and parents,” Dr. Gina Cook, Associate Professor of Psychology and Child Development, said.
Currently, the CDC serves 65 families, which will continuously increase with the growth of each incoming Stanislaus State class. As it stands, the center is the only high-quality childcare facility within a 25-mile radius of the university campus, but does not offer a sliding scale tuition so that low-income parents can utilize its offerings for their children.
Thanks to the CCAMPIS grant, Stanislaus State will not only expand the CDC to accommodate an additional 90 children, but also offer subsidized tuition for those low-income families. In addition, student-parents will also have the opportunity to attend educational events throughout the year thanks to the extra funding, including resources such as parental guidance, mental health care, stress easing activities and additional tools to promote student-parent success.
Denair resident and Stanislaus State master’s student Melissa Semmons utilizes the CDC for her two children, Zeke and Cove, and credits the program with empowering her to complete her bachelor’s degree and continue her studies as a master’s student studying business. She hopes to one day work locally in sustainable agriculture when she graduates.
“The CDC program has been wonderful,” Semmons said. “This grant is a big relief because tuition at another daycare or education program would cost as much as my tuition at Stan State. We view the center as not only investing in our own futures, but also giving our kids an early investment in education – it’s made them more curious and better prepared them for their futures.”