WMU News

Grant aids toddlers, parents and pre-service teachers

Nov. 1, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- The Children's Place Day Care Center at Western Michigan University and the College of Education are the recipients of a four-year $73,380 federal grant to expand the availability of on-campus child care.

The grant, called Child Care Access Means Parents in School--CCAMPIS-- was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and will allow The Children's Place to begin programming for babies as young as 15 months old. Currently, toddlers must be at least 2 years old and out of diapers before they can enroll. The new funding, which will be made available each year for four years, underwrites the salary of a full-time toddler teacher and provides money for five teaching interns through the College of Education.

The center, which is licensed for 43 children, serves youngsters ages 2 to 11. The majority of the children in care are those of WMU student parents, who utilize the opportunity for part-time care while they juggle parenthood, full class loads and, in most cases, jobs. In addition, children of WMU faculty and staff are well-represented at the center, which also is open to the local community.

The new grant will help more parents take advantage of the center.

"Access to quality child care should not be an obstacle to job training or college studies," U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige said in awarding the 222 grants, which total $10.5 million nationwide. "These grants can help parents complete school and make their career goals possible and their futures more promising," he said.

University officials agree.

"This award allows our student parents to maintain their educational energy, focus and progress, and at the same time, offers a field site for our pre-service teachers to have intern experiences," says Dr. Alonzo Hannaford, associate dean of the College of Education.

Most of WMU's grant money will go toward subsidizing the cost of childcare with a sliding fee scale to serve as many low-income student parents - those eligible for Pell Grants - as possible.

The Children's Place grant, the largest of seven awarded in Michigan, will be put to use beginning in January.

"This is like a dream come true because the demand for quality and easily accessible childcare is so high," says Joan Ashley, administrative director of The Children's Place and manager of the WMU Apartments where many student parents live. "We're moving on this grant at top speed and loving every minute of it."

Media contact: Gail H. Towns, 616 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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