The University of West Florida Educational Research Center for Child Development received a $1.6 million, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to assist Pell-eligible and Pell-recipient student-parents with the costs of childcare. This is the largest grant the University has been awarded to offset childcare costs for students. In addition to securing the grant, UWF’s Educational Research Center for Child Development also accomplished the near-impossible feat of a perfect review panel.
“This grant allows student parents to persist in their degree while simultaneously laying a lasting foundation for their child’s future education and development without the financial burden of rising childcare costs,” said Kaley Devito, associate director of the ERCCD. “This is a great accomplishment for the center.”
The Child Care Access Means Parents in School, known as CCAMPIS, grant is helping parents like Hanna Klump, whose four children are currently enrolled at the ERCCD while she works to earn her bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Klump, who is a U.S. Navy veteran, decided to use her military benefits to enroll at UWF three years ago. At the time, she had one child. Since she became a UWF student, her family has grown in size. She says it wouldn’t have been possible to continue her studies without the ERCCD and this grant, which allows her family to pay a small portion of the total cost of childcare for her four children.
“Being a full-time student and mother of four, I don’t have the time to work to pay for childcare; my husband works full-time as well,” Klump said. “I wouldn’t have been able to get this far in my bachelor’s degree program without the center and the financial security of this grant.”
Klump will graduate in December and plans to start UWF’s master’s program in exercise science in the spring. She’ll continue to use the center as a graduate student. She said within the last four years the staff have become like family to her.
“When I was in and out of the hospital pregnant with twins a year and a half ago, everyone was so helpful, and we really relied on their care,” Klump said. “They have been like family to us, and I would say all the families that use the center would say the same. Every day my kids are around people who really care about them, and it will be bittersweet when they outgrow the center.”
The UWF grant supports ERCCD parents with 50 to 90% off childcare fees. The total financial support is dependent upon several personal factors including the number of classes the student is enrolled in, how many children are enrolled at the center and whether they are the single head of the household. Students must be in good academic standing.
UWF’s ERCCD has been around since the early 1970s and has been the first educational experience for thousands of children. ERCCD is a Gold Seal Quality Care Program, which means it has been acknowledged as a childcare facility that has gone above the required minimum licensing standards to become accredited.
For more information about the ERCCD, visit uwf.edu/childdev.