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Grant to Assist Student-Parents

6/20/2018, 2:40 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Joliet Junior College $89,769 in grant funding to assist 20 low-income student-parents with ...

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Joliet Junior College $89,769 in grant funding to assist 20 low-income student-parents with childcare expenses.

The amount is for Fiscal Year 2018, and is anticipated to be distributed each year over a four-year period. Funding comes through the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS), which was approved by Congress in March as part of a broader spending package. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) announced on June 6 that the Joliet community will benefit from the funding.

“Earlier this year, I led a request to provide robust funding for the CCAMPIS program to help student-parents across our country care for their children so they can work to attain a college degree or workforce training that helps them provide a better life for themselves and their families,” Foster said. “I am pleased that we were able to secure a record high $50 million in CCAMPIS funding as part of the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, and I am proud to announce that student-parents in the Joliet community will benefit.”

A JJC student assisting at the Early Childhood Center

JJC student helping at Early Childhood Center

Using a sliding fee scale, the grant will cover up to $100 in weekly childcare costs for eligible students. In addition to offering quality, affordable child care, the grant aims to increase the number of low-income parents who enroll in credit classes and boost their academic success.

“The success of our students is the ultimate goal at JJC,” Dr. Judy Mitchell, JJC president, said. “Many of our students are faced with financial and domestic barriers that have the ability to impact their access to education. It is critical that we provide the support they need to remove those barriers and provide an educational opportunity that can transform their lives. Thanks to the support from this grant, we can strengthen the college’s ability to provide those crucial services.”

The grant also funds a new recruitment and parent support specialist position. This person will serve as a resource for these parents, helping to facilitate and encourage student-parent participation in the educational development of their children, planning and implementing volunteer opportunities and parenting workshops. They will also be responsible for implementing a comprehensive recruitment strategy to enroll low-income, Pell-eligible student-parents.

“These funds will help increase our student-parents enrolling in secondary education and decrease their childcare expenses. So this is a huge benefit to students,” said Beverly Cavanaugh, manager of JJC’s Early Childhood Center.

JJC’s Main Campus houses the Early Childhood Center, which provides learning and social experiences, safety and guidance for children ages 3 to 5. Last month, the facility was awarded the Gold Circle of Quality by ExcelRate Illinois. The distinction goes to programs that have met the highest quality standards in learning environment and teaching quality, administrative standards, and training and education.

“When we have our facility on campus which meets those highest standards and then we can offer this funding – now we truly have the best of both worlds,” said Cavanaugh. “We’re educating children and at the same time we’re educating their parents. Additionally, if children have good experiences in the classroom they’re going to be better prepared for school moving forward. It’s a snowball that rolls in a very positive way.”

In addition, JJC also benefits by strengthening and expanding partnerships within the industry and the community, such as with the Academy Network Teams for Joliet Townships High Schools, All Our Kids, the local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency and the Joliet Area Association for the Education of Young Children.

JJC student-parents have previously benefited from the CCAMPIS grant, which the college was awarded from 2009-2012. At that time, more than half of the JJC student-parents supported through the grant reported that they would have been unable to enroll or continue taking classes at the college without CCAMPIS assistance.