GRCC preschool receives U.S. Education Department grant



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


Oct. 1, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Finding and affording quality child care can be an insurmountable barrier for low-income college students with children. But for a number of GRCC students, this barrier will be eased with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will provide funding for child care, parent-child resources and classroom materials at the GRCC Laboratory Preschool.

A federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School grant will provide $99,425 each year for four years to support child-care services to low-income parents who are enrolled in GRCC’s Occupational Support program. The program serves students who are economically disadvantaged, a single parent or guardian, a pregnant single woman, displaced homemaker; or an individual with a disability or with limited English proficiency. Students must be enrolled in nine or more credits and attending class or studying on-campus during the time that a child is in child care in order to be eligible.

“Child care is not only necessary for many parents to enroll in college classes — it is also a critical support in helping them succeed once they’re there,” said GRCC President Dr. Steven C. Ender. “Our preschool not only meets the children’s academic and social needs, but it becomes a wonderful support for our parents. They meet other student-parents and learn about resources that are available to them.”

According to the Kent County Early Childhood Baseline Indicators report, “there is not one census tract in Kent County where a family living at or below 75 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($16,196 for a family of four) has sufficient income to cover their housing, child care expenses and transportation expenses.” (Grand Valley State University, Community Research Institute, October 2011).

“This grant will help break the cycle of generational poverty within our student population,” said JaneAnn Benson, director of the Laboratory Preschool. “We will be meeting the need for a stable learning environment for children while their parents are attending college and preparing to enter the workforce.”

The GRCC Laboratory Preschool is an accredited, 5-star rated, campus-based preschool that has been in existence since 1974. Licensed to care for 80 children, the preschool serves as a lab setting for GRCC students who are majoring in its Child Development and education program.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.