Academic success for students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania who are parents of young children may become a little easier, thanks to additional funding for IUP’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program.

In October 2021, IUP was notified of funding of $605,244 from the Department of Education to continue the program through 2025. 

Recently, IUP was notified that this funding has been increased by $45,394, which equals $196,705 for the current academic year.

CCAMPIS, authorized by the Higher Education Act, is designed to help low-income parenting students stay in school and graduate. This program provides up to 50 hours of childcare (including before and after-school care) at nationally accredited childcare centers, covering 40 to 90 percent of childcare costs.

To be eligible, parenting students must be enrolled in at least six credits of study, be Pell Grant eligible, or with an annual family income at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty guideline. The program is open to parenting students enrolled in undergraduate courses or in master’s coursework.

The program also provides mentoring, including review of academic progress, and coaching to parenting students. The program team helps participants connect with university and community resources and works with parenting students to monitor their child’s development. Parenting students also attend workshops that support parenting.

Kalani Palmer, an associate professor in the Department of Professional Studies in Education, is the project director of CCAMPIS at IUP.

“This additional funding not only allows us to expand opportunities to help student-parents, but it’s a great vote of confidence in our program,” Interim Dean of the College of Education and Communications Sue Rieg said.

“Dr. Palmer continues to do outstanding work as a faculty member, is an incredible advocate for our students, and has been recognized for excellence as a Distinguished Alumni from University of Pittsburgh, where she received her doctorate, and is one of only 10 professionals selected for induction into the Emerging Leaders 2022 Class for the NACADA: the Global Community for Academic Advising,” Rieg said. Palmer won an award for excellence in advising from the organization in 2021.

In addition to the current funding for the program, Palmer secured funding for the program at IUP for 2017 to 2021. Prior to 2017, IUP hosted the program from 2008 through 2012.  

“This program is focused on student persistence and graduation and helping parenting students focus on their academic success,” Palmer said. “There are programs that exist that help with childcare costs; but often, there are waiting lists for those programs, and those programs have work requirements. It can be very difficult to go to school full time and work 20 hours; the CCAMPIS program doesn’t have that work requirement.

As of the 2019–20 academic year, there were 356 parenting students at IUP: 224 in the graduate program and 132 enrolled in undergraduate coursework. A total of 38 parenting students received CCAMPIS funding during the first four years of the program under Palmer’s direction.

“This program is designed to provide parenting students the option to fully participate in their education without worrying about secondary jobs and the quality of the care being provided to their children,” she said.

In addition to providing funding for parenting students for quality childcare and academic support and parenting workshops and programming, the grant also provides funding to help childcare centers become nationally accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This association is the largest nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood education.

The accreditation includes 10 standards of excellence for early childhood education that involve children, teachers, family and community partners, and program administration. According to NAEYC officials, programs that meet these accreditation standards are recognized for providing a safe and healthy environment for children, and having teachers that are well trained, have access to excellent teaching materials, and work with a curriculum that is appropriately challenging and developmentally sound for young children.

Currently, there is one site in Indiana County that holds NAEYC accreditation: Indiana County Child Day Care (Indi Kids), which includes the childcare center on the IUP campus.

However, parenting students who qualify for the program, including students who live outside of the region and who are enrolled in online programs, may use any nationally accredited center or PA Key Star 4 provider in the state.

In addition to helping parenting students, the program also employs IUP students to assist with administrative tasks, data collection, promotional materials, parenting student resources, and delivering the parent workshops. Parent workshops have ranged from mental wellness to how to communicate with your child’s teacher to workshops on dental health. The CCAMPIS grant also provides CPR training to parents through the American Red Cross.

“Interviews with our parenting students have also helped us to gain insight into the issues they face,” Palmer said.

“During this grant cycle, we want to continue our work to create a more welcoming environment for parents on campus. Our team also is looking at what types of materials could be added to the student orientation welcome packet and creating a virtual nontraditional student orientation,” she said.

More information and applications about the program for parenting students are posted on the CCAMPIS website.