Education Department awards millions for campus child care programs

The Biden Administration will provide more than $13 million in grant awards to 34 U.S. colleges and universities so they can establish or improve campus-based child care for low-income college students, according to Diverse Issues in Higher Education. The awards are provided through the federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program.

As part of President Biden’s Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers, schools competing for grants were asked to show how they would improve campus child care services, such as by increasing wages to avoid turnover and ensure children receive the best-possible care.

“Today’s grants will help 34 colleges and universities raise the bar for how they support student parents as they work to earn degrees and credentials that will advance their careers and boost their earning potential,” United States Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release

Related: ‘We deserve to be on campus just like anybody else’: Student-parents on overcoming barriers, stigmas in higher ed >

The need for campus child care

Unaddressed child care needs present a barrier to college completion for student parents, who have to balance family responsibilities while keeping up with coursework. Over 1 in 5 students are parents, and 42% of student parents attend community colleges, the press release says. Over two-thirds of student parents (68%) live at or near the poverty line, and they are more likely to be students of color and older than their peers, and to have few child care options, New America reports.  

The number of higher education institutions with child care services for student parents has fallen in the last decade. In 2015, 49% of four-year institutions had child care services, compared to 55% of four-year colleges in 2003, according to The Education Trust. Federal data shows there may be even fewer on-campus child care options since the COVID-19 pandemic, New America explains.

Related: Memoir: To help student-parents thrive, focus on belonging, basic needs >

Bolstering programs for underserved populations

Along with the child care grants, the Education Department announced over $75 million in grant awards across three programs for underserved students at postsecondary institutions: the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISI) Part A grant program, the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) state grant program, and the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP). Grant recipients will use the funding to expand outreach to historically underrepresented groups and better prepare them for higher education.

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