The two-year school has received a four-year, $729,000 federal grant to assist low-income students with preschool childcare expenses, and the program is expected to launch in January 2019.
NSCC plans to partner with local daycare providers who have a 3-star rating — the highest available — under the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ Child Care Report Card and Star Quality Program. College officials say they hope to provide daycare locations that are convenient to the school’s campuses in Blountville, Elizabethton, Johnson City and Kingsport.
“There’s still a lot of details to work out,” school spokesman Bob Carpenter said, adding that the college about 15 years ago had a similar grant in the Kingsport area. “Childcare is a big issue with Reconnectors.”
He was referring to the Tennessee Reconnect program that aims to get former students back in school to finish degrees or certifications, but he said NSCC also would work with nontraditional first-time students with young children.
The Childcare Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant is administered by the U.S. Department of Education to help parents stay in college and complete a certificate or degree. As envisioned, the program will serve families with preschool-age children who are enrolled in full-time daycare. However, part-time or after-school care might also be a possibility.
Details have yet to be announced, but Carpenter said as a rule of thumb students who fill out the FAFSA forms and are shown eligible for Pell Grants may be able to participate in the program. Nikki Morrison, a grant researcher/writer for NSCC, said the program officially will begin Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year, and more details will be available in the fall. “We have to get all those administrative processes in place,” Morrison said.
Linda Calvert, NSCC’s executive director of grant development, said campus and national research indicate childcare is an important component for single parents and parents in general. Calvert and Morrison said a 2016-17 survey at NSCC, used in the grant application, found that of more than 300 respondents, 90 percent of full-time students and 80 percent of part-time ones knew of others unable to attend the school because of a lack of childcare.
In addition, Morrison said that of the part-time students, 75 percent said lack of childcare prevented them from being full-time students.
Carpenter said that among Tennessee Reconnect students at NSCC, 29 percent preferred weekday classes from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 25 percent after 4 p.m., 24 percent anytime, 21 percent online and 1 percent weekends.
And according to 2014 information from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, about 26 percent of all undergraduate students, or 4.8 million students, are raising dependent children.
The institute also said women are disproportionately likely to be balancing college and parenthood, many without the support of a spouse or partner. Women make up 71 percent of all student parents. Also, it said roughly 2 million students, or 43 percent of the total student parent population, are single mothers. Single student fathers make up 11 percent of the student parent population.