Ohio State expands youngster care help for parenting college students

Parenting students at The Ohio State University’s regional campuses in Mansfield and Newark are now eligible for spots in a federally subsidized child care program. The expanded $2 million, four-year Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant, awarded to the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusionhelps low-income parenting students stay in school and graduate.

The grant, offered through the US Department of Education, will advance Ohio State’s capacity to provide critical child care support, mentoring, career development and positive social engagement for parenting students and their families.

While the university doesn’t specifically track how many students are parents, Yolanda Zepeda, interim vice provost for diversity and inclusion, said parenting students are a sizable part of the university community and face many barriers that go unacknowledged.

“Our universities were never designed for students with children, but I think the challenges are finally being better understood, and more resources are being made available,” Zepeda said.

Traci Lewis, director of the ACCESS Collaborativea nationally acclaimed academic and social support program assisting parenting students at Ohio State, said this new federal grant expands the capacity of the CCAMPIS program, initially funded through a smaller grant in 2019.

“This means more support in regard to child care for more parenting students,” Lewis said. “It means we can provide support for parenting students at Mansfield and Newark for the first time. We chose those two campuses because Mansfield has an established child care center on campus that we could work with, and we felt that Newark, with its close proximity to the Columbus campus, was another good place to start as we expand.”

Roughly 45 parenting students and their children each year can be helped under the grant, which includes daytime child care and summer camp opportunities as well as after-school care, according to Lewis. To be eligible for the program, Buckeye parents must have a Pell-eligible income level and be taking a full class load.

“It’s mostly focused on supporting under-resourced undergraduate students, although we do have a few graduate student slots,” she said.

Nationally, more than one in five college students is a parent, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Women of color are more likely than their peers to have children while earning a degree.

Along with the help for child care, parenting students in the program participate in parenting skills seminars and career development activities as well as counseling and art therapy sessions. Social outings like a family fun day on the South Oval, a family weekend retreat, and a Buckeye football watch party are also part of the program.

“We give them a lot of different opportunities to get involved and meet people,” Lewis said. “Too often parenting students think they are the only person on campus who has a child.”

Lewis said all of the programming offered is focused on a two-generation approach that supports the parent and the children at the same time.

For those interested in applying for the program, more information is available at the ACCESS website or by contacting CCAMPIS Program Coordinator Stephanie Fields at [email protected].

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