Grants Help Students Balance Classwork, Parenting

Dec 18, 2020

Income-eligible Cal U students can apply now for free, quality child care.

help for parents

Attending college can be difficult – especially for students who also are busy moms or dads. These days, changes in school and daycare schedules make it especially hard for parenting students to find uninterrupted time to read, study or focus on remote learning.

The Hand-in-Hand program can help, says Dr. Nancy Skobel, director of the Women’s Center at Cal U. Funded by a federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant, the program covers the cost of accredited child care programs for eligible students enrolled at Cal U.

“It can be difficult to concentrate on classwork when your children need care and attention, especially while classes are remote,” Skobel said. “This grant allows parenting students to focus on their studies with the knowledge that their children’s needs also are being met.”

Hand-in-Hand pays only for child care programs accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. NAEYC-accredited programs include:

  • The Village, which provides early childhood education for infants through school-age children at its center in California, Pa.
  • Kindercare, which offers daycare, early education and care for school-age children at centers throughout western Pennsylvania.

Cal U students – including parents whose children are in school or daycare – can study, conduct research, write papers or attend remote classes at Manderino Library. The library serves as a “parent hub,” with free wi-fi and computers available for students’ use during regular library hours.

To be eligible for a Hand-in-Hand grant for child care, parenting students must be enrolled in a Cal U degree program, have a FAFSA on file with the Financial Aid Office and maintain a grade-point average of 2.5 or higher. Undergraduates must be eligible for federal Pell Grant assistance, based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC); graduate students who meet EFC guidelines also may be eligible.

Families with military connections receive priority, based on financial need, followed by single mothers, single fathers and married parents.

Access to free or affordable child care makes it more likely that parenting students will stay in college and earn a degree, studies show. And quality care can improve school readiness for young children.

Both The Village and Kindercare support school-age children who are learning remotely – another benefit for parents who find themselves teaching, as well as learning, at home.

“Education is the ultimate equalizer,” Skobel said. “I’m excited that Cal U and the Hand-in-Hand program can help our students with finances, especially in these hard economic times.”

For more information or an application for free child care through the Hand-in-Hand program, Cal U students may contact Donna Hoak at