Free, quality child care sounds too good to be true. But for qualified Anne Arundel Community College students next term, it’s part of an initiative to help students with the full-time role of mom or dad to earn another title – college graduate.
“The main goal of this is to help keep student-parents in school and moving toward graduation and their goals,” AACC Child Development Center Director Janet Klenkel said. “They can use the child care for an evening class, or even to just get some quiet study time in.”
The service comes courtesy of a U.S. Department of Education grant called Child Care Access Means Parents in School. For those who qualify, free child care will be available from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday beginning Jan. 2 at the Child Development Center (CDC). The grant will pay for program supplies, snacks and two caregivers that can help with homework, games, and arts and crafts.
Four other Maryland community colleges also won the award – Baltimore City, Frederick, Hagerstown and Wor-Wic. AACC’s award, $98,719, was the highest. The grant also will fund a parent support group, professional development for staff and tuition assistance to some children already enrolled in the daytime program. The daytime program serves children ages 2 to 5, while the evening program will support up to 15 children per night, ages 2 to 12.
The college previously offered discounted evening child care for students’ children, but it was discontinued due to low participation. For a student with one class and two children, evening child care – even with the discount – could reach more than $1,000 a year, a burden some can’t take on. “We’re really hoping the fact that this is free will make a difference for students,” Klenkel said.
Eligible parents must be AACC students who qualify for the federal Pell Grant, which gives need-based financial assistance to low-income students. Students can retrieve their financial aid award letter from their MyAACC account to see if they meet the requirements.
Those interested can visit the CDC from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday for information and to register, or reach out to 410-777-2450 or email@example.com with any questions.