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FCC gets federal funds to support child care for students who are parents

Frederick News-Post - 11/14/2022

Nov. 15—A federal grant will support child care for Frederick Community College students over the next four years.

The $116,000 package, announced last month, represents the renewal of a grant first awarded in 2018, said Fred Hockenberry, FCC's executive director of auxiliaries and procurement.

The first round of grants went toward on-campus child care only, Hockenberry said. This time, the college plans to also refer students to other providers and give them scholarships once the FCC center fills up.

"The challenge this year ... is there's an extraordinarily large number of people looking for infant and toddler care," Hockenberry said.

The FCC center takes children from infancy through pre-K. It employs 14 full-time teachers, some part-time classroom aides and two directors.

Non-students can send their children to the center, too.

"It's very much just a normal day care center," said FCC spokesperson Caroline Cole. "It's its own building, so it isn't like it's just a few rooms on campus somewhere."

To be eligible for discounts through the federal funds — which come from the U.S. Department of Education's Child Care Access Means Parents in School program — FCC students must be enrolled in a credit program with a GPA of at least 2.0, Hockenberry said.

They also must be eligible for Pell Grants, a federal program for low-income undergraduate students.

The goal of the scholarships is to remove barriers to education for parents who might not be able to afford child care, Cole and Hockenberry said. Often, parents of young children can't enroll in or finish school, they said.

"[It's] to help them be able to attend and persist and graduate," Hockenberry said.

Ujunwa Nnabue, an FCC student pursuing a nursing degree, said she has sent both of her young children to the child care center thanks to the 2018 grant funding.

It was convenient to have the center in the same place as her classes, she said. Without support, she said, she might not have been able to afford child care.

"I'm just grateful that I was able to qualify for that scholarship," Nnabue said. "It was a great help for me and my family."

FCC is using some of the grant funds to hire a part-time coordinator to help student parents enroll in classes and navigate on-campus services they might not be aware of, Hockenberry said.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek


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