How the CCAMPIS program serves as a lifeline for student parents at CCP
Through this program, student parents are aided in facing the challenges of childcare while pursuing a college degree.
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Being a college student can bring about several challenges — from the multiple assignments and exams, to paying for expensive textbooks and finding time for extracurricular activities.
Now, combine all that with the challenges of also being a parent, trying to raise a family of young children and making ends meet.
According to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), there are 4.3 million student parents in the United States — about 55% are single parents, 44% also work full-time, and 64% attend school part-time.
The question is: How can a student parent successfully juggle the pressures of completing a higher education degree, parenting, childcare and working?
The CCAMPIS program aims to address a key part of this very concern, and help students stay on the path to success.
An acronym, which stands for Child Care Access Means Parents in School, CCAMPIS is a federal grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education that provides student parents with support to pay for childcare.
The Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) is one of colleges that provides support for its student parents through the CCAMPIS program.
“We are able to pay up to $1,000 per month per child to cover childcare costs. So that’s a huge burden off of them, especially for our student parents who have multiple children,” said Kelly Lake, project director of CCAMPIS at CCP.
Childcare is one of the biggest expenses families face. According to data from the Economic Policy Institute, the average cost of infant care in Pennsylvania is well over $11,000 a year — more than 8% more than the average cost of rent.
Infant care in Pennsylvania is also just 18.5% less than in-state tuition for a four-year public college.
For a student parent with multiple children, the expenses quickly add up.
“That's where a program like ours comes in,” added Lake. “It's a very small piece of the puzzle, but we try to at least eliminate that burden, because they're juggling a lot.”
There are 55 student parents currently enrolled in the program at CCP, the largest since the program was implemented at the College in 2018.
To be eligible, applicants must be Pell-eligible; registered for at least six credits per semester; attending classes remotely or on-campus or performing College-related activities during the time the child care services are rendered; be in good academic standing and maintain it to continue participating in the program.
Muyeh “May” Yaghnam is one of the students currently enrolled in the CCAMPIS program at CCP. A first-year student majoring in healthcare, she describes the CCAMPIS program as “life-changing.”
A mother of four who returned to school in 2021 after 15 years of being a stay-at-home mother, Yaghnam’s decision to continue her education was cultivated by the fact that she wanted to be a positive example for her children.
“It’s not easy at all to be a stay-at-home mom, but I knew that I had to represent for my kids and show them and to be an influence for them that you can be anything and you can be all,” she said.
“Getting my education was first for them, but now that I’ve been in school for two semesters, it’s been great for me too,” Yaghnam added.
Yaghnam is a shining example of the true impact of the CCAMPIS program.
“Before I even knew about this program, I was struggling to stay in school,” she noted.
Oftentimes, she had to rush back from class to pick up her children from school. Since she had no one nearby to babysit, it became very difficult to manage the challenges of childcare and being a student.
However, the CCAMPIS program has paid huge dividends for Yaghnam in a variety of different ways.
“They helped me find amazing daycares near me to make it easier for me to drop them off, go to my school and pick them back up on my way home,” she noted.
“I have more time to study… I am no longer as exhausted. I am stress-free from searching for someone to babysit for me every single time I have to go to school. I am much better academically [and] mentally,” she continued. “It’s a life changer.”
To Lake, seeing the impact and aftermath of the program stands among the most fulfilling components of her work as project director for CCAMPIS.
On Sunday, May 1, CCP held a graduation ceremony to recognize a cohort of 10 student parents who graduated this school year.
“Being able to see our student parents [walk] across that stage and get their diplomas is one of the most rewarding aspects,” said Lake.
As a former preschool teacher and former director at a childcare center, she understands both sides of the spectrum — seeing both children learn and develop through childcare programs, as well as student parents evolve through the CCAMPIS program.
“Our student parents come to us because they have that need, they want to be able to get their degrees, and if we can just help them in any sort of way get to that, that is the most rewarding part of all of it,” she added.
As a piece of advice for student parents who may be undecided on applying for the CCAMPIS program or are facing the challenges of childcare, Yaghnam noted: “Reach out for help — there's absolutely nothing wrong with that — set your goals, know what you want, and don't let anything in the world get in between what you want to do.”
Given the fact that the majority of students at CCP are nontraditional students, it is critically important to have CCAMPIS as a resource.
It is for that reason that Lake has become a huge advocate for the student parents, and those who need it to successfully obtain their degrees or certificates. It is her belief that CCAMPIS should be available to student parents anywhere.