Campus starts free night care starts on campus


Photo courtesy of Morgan Mitchell

AACC student and mom Morgan Mitchell attends a Thanksgiving luncheon with her daughter Jade at the Child Development Center, which will offer free evening care next semester.

Alexandra Radovic, Editor-in-Chief

The college’s Child Development Center will start offering free evening child care in January.

The addition of evening hours, which the campus Child Development Center, or CDC, has not offered since 2016, resulted from a $98,719 U.S. Department of Education grant the college received for the first time in late September. Parents who take classes at AACC may start applying in December for free evening child care, which will be available next semester from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

“The main goal of this is to keep student parents in school … to help them move toward graduation,” CDC Director Janet Klenkel said.

The Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant supports low-income parents who need affordable childcare while they attend evening classes. About $17,397 of the grant will pay for school supplies and two evening caregivers, who will work 16 hours per week.  Staff will help the children with homework and organize games and arts and crafts projects.

Another $64,829 of the grant will go toward tuition assistance for eight of the roughly 49 children who are enrolled in the CDC daytime program. Students taking one to six credits are eligible for a 50 percent discount on their child care tuition.

Students taking seven to 11 credits are eligible for a 75 percent discount, and those with 12 or more credits could get free child care tuition.

Some students who work at the CDC said they’re not sure evening child care is good for the kids.

“I just feel bad for [the kids],” second-year elementary education student Yuri Shimanuki said. “They might have to go to a different school all day, [and] then from 6 to 10, be in a different place. … It’s going to be tough for them [even though] it’s good for the parents.”

Others, however, said the later hours for child care will help keep parents in school.

“I have a lot of friends that can only attend night classes, and they need that care,” second-year education student Jasmine Elliott said. “I think it’s amazing that it’s being offered. I would love to be here longer in the evening. I have three jobs and three classes and so I want to be here full time, and I know that students will take advantage and use this atmosphere in the evenings.”

CDC offered evening care for $5 per hour in 2016, but shut it down because of low enrollment.

This time, it will be free and open to only low-income families.

Members of the college’s Student Achievement and Success Program, or SASP, will help recruit families to enroll their children in the new evening care.

To qualify for reduced fees for evening and daytime care, parents must be AACC students on financial aid and qualify for the federal Pell Grant, which gives need-based financial assistance to low-income students.

The more credits low-income students take at AACC, the less tuition they will have to pay to enroll their children in CDC.

The daytime program serves children ages 2 to 5, while the evening program will support up to 15 low-income children as old as 10.

The remaining $16,493 of the funds will go toward professional development workshops and the formation of a parent support group, which will meet at the CDC for two hours, three times a year, to share best parenting practices and reliable community child-care resources.