Photo caption: With the federal grant, fees for child care services will be significantly reduced for eligible student parents at UW-Eau Claire.
The Children’s Nature Academy at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has received a $1.8 million federal grant to expand and provide high-quality day care for low-income parents who are pursuing their education.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School program will provide funding to Pell Grant-eligible UW-Eau Claire students for a four-year period starting in fall 2024. The CCAMPIS program aims to improve the retention of nontraditional and low-income students by providing greater equity in educational opportunities.
With the grant, fees for child care services will be significantly reduced for student parents, says Lisa Coen, director of the Children’s Nature Academy at 1190 Priory Road in Eau Claire.
“This grant is very important for our student parents at UWEC,” Coen says. “Child care is not only difficult to access in our community, but it is expensive.”
About 20 students presently use the day care services at the center and Coen would like to see that number double. The center also serves children of faculty and staff, and the Chippewa Valley community.
A portion of the grant funds will be used to hire a family service specialist to help students access additional resources they may need to be successful, allowing for more of a “relationship-based approach” at the Children’s Nature Academy.
“Each nontraditional student is unique and has unique needs based on the many roles they play,” Coen says. “When we can consider the individual student, success is more likely.”
In addition to reducing students’ day care bills and hiring the family service specialist, grant funds will be used for training and development, first-year expansion costs and hiring teachers, especially in younger age groups.
Students in need of child care can contact the Children's Nature Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-836-2178.