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It’s not what you expect to see on a college campus. A dozen toddlers playing with blocks, being read to by teachers, and playing with each other looks a lot like a typical daycare center.
These freshest of freshmen are in the Broward College Early Childhood Laboratory School. It simultaneously provides a teaching environment for those studying early childhood education, and affordable childcare for low-income college students.
“Childcare often can be a major stumbling block, an obstacle for our student parents,” said Dr. Mildred Coyne, the senior vice president of workforce education at Broward College.
Having a childcare center on campus helps students overcome that hurdle.
“I think it’s really important because a lot of parents have to choose between working and going to school so with this here it lets me do both,” explained Tanisha Jones, a Broward College student.
I asked one student whether she could go to college without the campus childcare option.
“No, absolutely not, because my family, they all work,” responded Jessenia Ginel.
Ginel has a two-year-old son, and so does Jones. They’re each single moms, going to school at Broward College North Campus.
They can work on their degrees, while their kids are in good hands, which is good for the children, too.
“Research has shown that children that attend childcare programs do better in school later on and then they have academic outcomes later on toward school success,” explained Jennifer Amador, the director of the Early Childhood Laboratory School.
As you might’ve guessed, there’s a waiting list to get into the program. Now, thanks to a one and a half million dollar federal grant from the Department of Education, they’re going to be able to double the size of it. The DOE calls it CCAMPIS, an acronym which stands for Childcare Access Means Parents in School.
The CCAMPIS money will fund more staffing to handle more than 80 children as they expand.
On average, daycare in South Florida costs about $8,500 a year.
“So having a grant that offsets the cost of childcare for our student parents is enormous in helping Broward college support and serve our students,” Coyne said.
The childcare program is a recruiting and retention tool for the college.
“I wish more people would know about it that this is available to them so that they could take the opportunity and go back to school,” Ginel said.
Jones is majoring in early childhood education, while Ginel is studying criminal justice.
They’re building their futures thanks to the low-cost childcare on campus.