High costs of parenting

Tanisha Wilcox moved to Philadelphia from New York three years ago and enrolled at Temple. A junior education major, Wilcox is a single mother with 4-year-old twin boys.

At the time of her move, she worked full-time during the day to pay for childcare and attended class at night. With school and work taking up the majority of her time, she said she saw her children only a couple of hours a day.

In 2003, Wilcox discovered the Child Care Access Means Parents in School scholarship. Administered in partnership with Family Care Solutions, the CCAMPIS scholarship gives recipients money to pay for childcare.

Beginning in the spring semester, however, Wilcox will be one of 25 Temple student-parents who will no longer receive money to pay for childcare through the grant.

After applying for a new CCAMPIS grant for the next four years through the Department of Education, Temple was not awarded the grant.

“We had it for four years. We were assuming we were going to get it for another four years,” said John Di Carlo, who has overseen CCAMPIS Program grant applications for Temple the past three years. “We assumed we had just as good a chance as anyone else.”

The Department of Education received 434 applications for new CCAMPIS grant awards for 2005, requesting nearly $35.7 million. With only $10.2 million available for new grants, the government was able to fund 116 applicants.

Wilcox has had the grant for the past two years. Before receiving money for childcare, Wilcox’s grades were suffering. Her first semester at Temple she earned a grade point average of 2.25. After receiving the grant she brought her average up to 3.75.

“I was juggling work and school full-time,” she said. “I wasn’t really seeing my children.”

This program has been convenient for Wilcox because her children are at daycare the same time she is at class. She is able to attend classes five days a week and take care of her children at night since she doesn’t have to work full-time, according to Wilcox. She also has more time to concentrate on her studies.

Wilcox is currently searching for other means to pay for childcare and does not plan on dropping out of school.

FCS, a nonprofit organization established in 1992, provides childcare resources to low-income families in the Philadelphia region. It collaborates with public and private organizations, like Temple, to advocate for increasing access to childcare, and awards grants and scholarships to low-income student-parents in college.

The CCAMPIS grant is available for students who are Pell Grant recipients. At Temple, undergraduate students taking a minimum of 12 credits, with a minimum GPA of 2.5, and have legal dependents less than 15 years of age were able to apply.

Temple was awarded a four-year CCAMPIS grant in 2001. Over the past four years, FCS has managed the grant on behalf of Temple, according to FCS President Sherrill Mosee. Students awarded the grant are eligible for up to $6,000 a year for childcare.

“The CCAMPIS grant pays for childcare so students can focus on their school work,” Mosee said. “If someone is taking 18 credits, it’s hard to work and go to school at the same time.”

The university was one of the first of 10 schools in the Philadelphia region to receive the CCAMPIS grant, according to Mosee.

It has helped more than 300 students in the region over the past four years.

Each CCAMPIS application is read and scored by three non-federal readers. Temple did not score high enough to be recommended for a new grant award, according to the Department of Education.

Temple and other universities throughout the country were not awarded with a new grant due to a cut in the federal budget, according to Mosee.

“This program has become very competitive,” Mosee said.

Reviewers scored applications based on certain criteria, according to Di Carlo.

Along with Temple, four other schools in the Philadelphia region will lose their grant next year, Mosee said.

FCS is currently supporting Temple students with remaining funds, but will not be able to do so after the end of the fall semester.

“We had a lot of people who were succeeding in this program,” Di Carlo said.

Fourteen out of the 25 Temple students who were awarded this grant have GPAs of 3.0 and higher. Seven out of those 14 are above 3.5, according to Di Carlo. Between 2001 and 2004, 34 students in the program graduated.

“It’s hard to balance school, while caring for their children and working,” he said. “I don’t know what it’s like. I can’t even put myself in their shoes.”

With the loss of the CCAMPIS grant, some students will not be able to continue their education.

“I have had students say to me, ‘Well what am I going to do? I don’t have the money. I might have to drop out of school to get money to pay for childcare,'” Mosee said.

“The program is being discontinued at a time when it’s really hitting its stride,” Di Carlo said. “We saw a lot of possibility in this.”

The university was solely dependent on government funding to participate in this program, according to Di Carlo.

“The Division of Student Affairs would love to support this program,” he said. “It just doesn’t have the money.”

Students who will no longer be receiving childcare funding were very grateful of the help they have been given, according to Di Carlo.

“Delivering this news to the students is sad,” he said. “The students in this program worked very hard. You end up having a lot of admiration for them.”

FCS will hold a Student-Parent Awareness Meeting at the university for Pell-eligible student-parents attending a two or four-year college in the Philadelphia region and who are not eligible for state childcare subsidies plan.

The meeting, to be held this Friday, will discuss advocating for additional funding to support non-working low-income student-parents in college. It will be in Barton Hall, room A140 at 4 p.m.

“We need students to advocate for funds for next semester,” Mosee said. “The most important voice is the voice of those who are affected by a situation. Those people can make mountains move. Your strength is in numbers.”

The media, legislators, the Department of Public Welfare and Child Care Information Services have been invited to attend the meeting, according to Mosee.

“I’m praying that another solution will come through,” Wilcox said. “You just have to keep searching.”

Leigh Zaleski can be reached at leigh.zaleski@temple.edu.

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