For most of his life, 3-year-old Byron Cooper Jr. has enjoyed attending a high-quality day care on the campus of Ferris State University in Michigan, where his parents are full-time students.
His 5-month-old brother, Stephan, has also benefited from attending the campus-based program.
The children’s parents, Byron and Quisha Cooper, have been able to keep their graduation dates—now only a year and a half away—on track because of the CCAMPIS grant, which covers 80% of their child care expenses.
But now House Republicans are proposing the elimination of the Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant, which helps about 5,000 student parents across the country go to school by paying for their child care.
Students in the New Majority
The Coopers aren’t alone. About 28% of all college students today are parents themselves. They’re part of what’s been coined the new majority on college campuses which includes students of color and older students that are often called nontraditional.
According to Rep. Katherine Clarke of Massachusetts, the number of student parents enrolled in college has increased by 50% in the last 15 years, but campus child care availability has declined.
The Young Invincibles, a millennial research and advocacy group, is analyzing the full impact on millennials of the Labor-H Appropriations Committee budget proposal, of which the plan to eliminate CCAMPIS is a part. But seeing how families like the Coopers could be affected illustrates what could be a consequential cut if the budget is passed.
“The grant now allows us to go to school full time and for Byron to work full time,” Quisha says. “Without the grant I’d probably have to be a stay-at-home mom, and Byron would have to go back to being a part-time student. It would delay both of our graduation dates.”
Byron, a human resources management major, found out about CCAMPIS through the Students with Children office, which held events for kids and parents.
“When we asked about cost, we were told that as long as we maintained a certain GPA, it would pay for the day care,” Quisha recalls.
‘Day Care Is So Expensive’
Cost was uppermost on the minds of the Coopers because “Day care is so expensive,” Quisha says—as any working parent knows.
According to Care.com‘s Cost of Care survey, nearly one family in three (32%) reports “spending 20% or more of their annual household income on child care.” The survey also shows that 23% of parents opted to stay at home, as Quisha is considering, to save money on child care.
There is some good news, however. Rep. Clark and Rep. Don Young of Alaska have introduced the CCAMPIS Reauthorization Act, which would permanently fund CCAMPIS, the only federal program that supports campus-based child care.
For the country’s 4.8 million student parents, permanently funding CCAMPIS would make a huge difference while providing on-campus, quality care to young children.
The Coopers are hoping funding will be in place to keep them on track to graduate and keep their sons in high-quality child care that includes high educational standards and even young Byron’s first dental appointment.
“You want to make sure your children are in a safe environment,” Quisha says. “The CCAMPIS grant gives us peace of mind that our kids are in a high-quality, loving day care so we can focus on learning and getting our degrees.”