Helen Gordon Center Receives Federal Grant

The Helen Gordon Child Development Center at Portland State was approved to receive a federal grant of $1.5 million in order to sustain the Child Care Access Means Parents In School program for the next four years. This will be the second time in a row the center has received this grant and the third time altogether, thanks to the success shown from the previous years of funding.

These funds will not only assist the center in adding qualified staff, but they will also allow over 25 low-income student parents at PSU to attain an education by helping pay for their child’s preschool tuition.

Ellie Justice, director of the HGCDC, is thrilled to see these student families succeed through the CCAMPIS grant.

“We are excited and grateful to be able to better meet campus needs in child care and have seen tremendous growth in the last three years in PSU’s ability to support parents in childcare,” she said.

“Less hours of work means more family time and time to study, and students can take more coursework.”

Students who qualify can receive anywhere from 25 to 50 percent off of theirchildcare tuition, this is an improvement over the last award, which only gave 15 to 30 percent off.

Priority is given to military affiliates and Pell Grant eligible families in order to assist those in greatest need.

Tracking and surveying of the students involved with these subsidies is done every single year. Results have shown that the GPAs of these students have increased, along with student retention. Surveys have also displayed a great reduction of stress in student parents.

Will Parnell, associate professor of early childhood education at PSU, shared some statistics of those surveys.

“41 percent of students said they would have had to quit school without [this] grant, which is highly significant to us,” Parnell said. “[This] proves that student families benefit from subsidies.”

Kelsey Benny, current PSU senior and liberal studies major, has experienced great success in academics over the past four years by being able to send her son to the center with the help of the CCAMPIS program grants.

“After having a child, my income was cut in half. I made a decision to go back to school and take pre-reqs for nursing,” Benny said.

“Between working two nights a week as a server at a restaurant I used to manage, taking care of [my] son and studying, there’s no way I could have
afforded [it].

“Three days a week [at the Center] would be 85 percent as much as our rent.”

Run partially on student fees, the Center is actually less expensive than other off-campus child care. For many student families, obtaining a degree wouldn’t be possible without this program and the grant supporting it.

“[It is] definitely a big relief to have help with my son’s tuition,” says Benny.

Along with the support CCAMPIS gives to low-income student families, the grant is also used by the center to improve the historic building and hire additional teachers to increase enrollment numbers. Justice described the center’s plans for enhancement.

“[We will] allow priority enrollment [to] younger children, under [the age of] three, which is a high unmet need here…” Justice said. “Our program is currently maxed out, with a wait list.”
The grant stretches further by aiding in graduate assistantships for the Early Childhood Education master’s program at PSU. Graduate assistants are able to put in hours of coursework at the center in a hands-on way.

“The Helen Gordon Center is accredited and connected to an ECE degree, but the new grant connects us even more with the master’s of ECE through heightened graduate assistant interaction with children in the center,” Parnell said.

The CCAMPIS program has plans to further their subsidies toward low-income families with this upcoming grant, taking effect in October of 2014. The Helen Gordon Center even offers 60 classroom assistant job positions to current undergrad students.

PSU also offers other programs—like the Jim Sells program—to provide financial assistance to families who need childcare on and off campus.

“[The PSU] campus is rallied around student parents,” Justice said.

For more information on the HGCDC, visit: http://www.hgcdc.pdx.edu/.

And for more information on the federal grant for CCAMPIS, visit: http://schoolofed.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/1–5-million-federal-grant-approved-for-on-campus-child-care/.