The exterior of Pearce Auditorium seen through fall foliage.

CCAMPIS grant helps student-parents with child care costs

Dec 18, 2020
Kathryne Davis

Kellie Price is an online student at Brenau and a working mother of two who also cares for her teenage sister. After her oldest daughter’s and sister’s schools went virtual due to COVID-19, Price and her husband began looking at ways to make the most of their new situation.

Price learned about the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant at Brenau, which provided assistance to send her youngest daughter to day care. This gave Price more time to focus on helping her other daughter and sister with schoolwork as she continued to work from home and earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

CCAMPIS is a U.S. Department of Education program that supports low-income parents as they complete their education through the offsetting of campus-based and community child care services. Now in its second year of the program, Brenau will continue to receive a grant of $42,120 annually for the next three years.

Price said the ability to be able to work and go to school while also supporting her children has given her a sense of confidence “not only as a mother but as an individual as well, outside of my role at home.”

“I feel empowered and grateful to know there are programs to help women reach their dreams that are realistic to today’s culture of mothers in college who are also working,” Price said. “The challenges are still there, but the stress of financial burden has been eased.”

Price is not alone in this situation.

Fredrick Agyekum is a student in Brenau’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and a father of four children, including two in day care. He said the CCAMPIS grant has eased some of the financial burden of child care, which has allowed him to spend more time studying instead of working.

“It’s a win-win situation,” he said. “I tell all of my classmates about this grant and how much it has helped me.”

Marissa Carlotta, another student in the ABSN program, was able to put her toddler in day care thanks to the CCAMPIS grant. This has given Carlotta more time to study and allowed her daughter to be around children her own age, which Carlotta feels is important to her development.

“I am on the dean’s list in an accelerated nursing program, during a pandemic at home with a toddler,” Carlotta said. “It’s something I’m proud of, and I don’t think that would be possible without the extra help from the grant.”

This year, COVID-19 restrictions have prevented external groups from bringing their children to the Brenau University Child Development Center. The CDC usually has a waiting list, but now students can apply to send their children to day care on Brenau’s Gainesville campus instead of needing to find outside care.

“At Brenau University, we believe that education can change the very trajectory of a family,” said Crystal Toombs, assistant vice president for student services. “The CCAMPIS grant allows students to focus on their assignments and degree completion without the extra burden of covering the total cost of child care. This partnership with the Brenau Child Development Center is the best of both worlds. Students can attend class and have the comfort of knowing their children are close by.”

Even if the student-parent lives outside of the Gainesville area, the grant assistance can be used for any accredited child care center in any state. In 2020, 31% of Brenau students that filed for financial aid through FAFSA reported having at least one dependent.

“The cost is pretty high for child care,” said Stefan Schulze, grants writer at Brenau. “When we did our survey at the beginning of the project, before we applied for the grant, we found that a large percentage of our students were taking care of children and many of those were being handled by their families. This grant helps pay a portion of the out-of-pocket child care costs so students can have more time to focus on their studies and be successful.”

In order to apply for the grant, students have to submit proof of their Pell Grant eligibility status. Preference is given to full-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade-point average. Undergraduate through doctoral level students from any of Brenau’s campuses or online degree programs may apply. The level of assistance students receive depends upon their Pell status and the availability of funds.

For more information about the CCAMPIS grant at Brenau, contact Crystal Toombs at ctoombs@brenau.edu.