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Affordable Child Care for Parents in College

Federal grant will help Blugolds raising young kids

Britney Rud and her son, William
Britney Rud and her son, William

Life is about to get a little less stressful for Britney Rud, a UW-Eau Claire senior who is pursuing her education degree while also raising her young son, William.

UW-Eau Claire’s Children’s Nature Academy, where Will attends and his mother works, has received a grant of nearly $400,000 to help Blugolds like Rud – both a student and a parent – secure quality and more affordable child care for their young children.

Through the federal Child Care Means Parents in School program, UW-Eau Claire will receive $98,585 each year for four years, for a total of $394,340. The CCAMPIS monies will help support UW-Eau Claire students who are the parents of infants and toddlers, allowing them to attend classes and be successful in their educational endeavors, says Lisa Coen, director of the Children’s Nature Academy.

“We are excited to receive funding to support Blugolds who are both students and the parents of very young children,” Coen says. “With these funds, we will provide child care at a reduced rate for qualifying families who have children enrolled in the program. These parents can then focus on their studies knowing that their children are in a quality child care program and that they will be charged rates they can better afford.

“The CCAMPIS program will help meet some of our students’ child care needs, which will help them succeed in college and give them more long-term financial security.”

Through the CCAMPIS initiative, Pell-eligible Blugolds can enroll their youngsters at the Children’s Nature Academy at a greatly reduced rate. The new funding also will allow the Children’s Nature Academy to offer student-parents more flexible schedules, supportive services for families, and access to educated and experienced early childhood professionals, Coen says.

That’s welcome news for Rud, a Mondovi native who is working toward her degree in unified early childhood special education.“This will make it easier for me to afford quality child care for my son while I’m at class and work,” Rud says. “Another huge benefit is that students now will be given priority for openings in enrollment. There is high demand for child care so there are always waiting lists at the Children’s Nature Academy and other quality child care providers in the area. It’s good know that student-parents will have first dibs here.”

With the grant dollars, the Children’s Nature Academy can offer students more flexibility in their schedules, allowing them to better balance their busy lives while maximizing time spent with their child, Coen says, noting that the academy will offer students a variety of scheduling options.

Both the lower rates and the new flexibility will make her life as a single parent less stressful, Rud says.

“Knowing I will have access to affordable, flexible, quality care will allow me to attend classes and work without worrying about child care for my son,” Rud says.

Coen says data shows that supporting students who are parents of young children does lead to higher graduation rates.

“Affordable, quality child care is crucial to the success of undergraduate students who are raising young children at the same time they are working to earn their degrees,” Coen says. “CCAMPIS has proven elsewhere to be a positive factor in retaining nontraditional and low-income students. It will help us offer more of our student-parents greater opportunities to earn their degrees.”  

Research shows that students with children are less likely to complete their degree within six years of enrolling, with only 33 percent of those students earning a degree or certificate in that timeframe, Coen says.

Judy Berthiaume is senior editor at Integrated Marketing and Communications at UW-Eau Claire.