By Juan Alberto Ponce Jr.
Pulse Staff Reporter
In January, approximately 20 Palo Alto College students qualified for childcare assistance at the Ray Ellison Family Center for the 2018 Spring Semester.
A $500,000 grant was awarded to PAC by the U.S. Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School program. Over the next four years, qualified student-parents will pay $25 to $35 per week for daycare at the REFC through the CCAMPIS program.
The program encourages student-parents to graduate with an associate’s degree by providing them with affordable daycare, a chance to use campus resources and meet with advisors without worrying about time constraints.
Sophomore Briana Ramos is a full-time student and Business Administration major. She benefits from this worry-free environment.
“I have time to study without worrying about my son at daycare,” Ramos said. “I know he is receiving the best care and is learning a lot. It provides a stress-free environment for me to be able to focus on school.”
The program’s $137,337 budget for the first year allows the 20 students to pay a discounted price for a week of care.
“Without this program, I couldn’t be able to go to school full-time. Paying $35 a week for daycare has allowed me to take more classes,” said sophomore Sabrina Aguilar, a Kinesiology major.
Texas A&M University-San Antonio graduate and Palo Alto College Alumni Rosanna Padron is a teacher at the REFC with a tenure of 10 years.
“Students can bring their children all week and benefit from a curriculum that prepares them for pre-kinder and kindergarten,” Padron said, “giving parents the opportunity to study and test without being rushed to pick them up.”
Eligibility includes enrollment at PAC, maintaining a 2.0 GPA and a degree plan. In addition to the requirements, coordinator of REFC, Jennifer Flores explained the obligations applicants would be expected to do.
“Student-parents are required to volunteer 10 hours a year at the REFC,” Flores said. “Attend monthly parent meetings/workshops, two parent-teacher conferences per semester and parent orientation.”
The CCAMPIS application process is simple. Sophomore Stephanie Valdez, an Education major expressed how pain-free the process was for her.
“It was easy. The REFC provided me with the information I needed to apply for the program,” Valdez said.
Dean of Student Success Katherine Beaumont Doss and Flores review the applications.
“Call REFC to inquire about services, including parent scholarships,” Flores said. “Applications can be found online or picked up at the center.”
The REFC cares for 43 children ages 18 months to 5 years, with the highest level of accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, according to Flores.
The REFC provides a creative curriculum taught by highly-qualified teachers who all have bachelor’s degrees or higher.
“Having children attending five days a week helps them to meet their developmental milestones to become school-ready and identify any developmental delays early on,” Flores said.
The tuition for childcare without the CCAMPIS program is $160 a week.
Contact the REFC for more information about application process and benefits. The center may be reached at (210)486-3500.