The Children's Learning Center at the College of Lake County received a four-year competitive grant totaling $500,220 from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant is for provide child care for up to 40 low-income CLC students; 20 each at the centers at the Grayslake and Lakeshore campuses.
The four-year grant, $125,055 annually, began in fall semester 2013, and the extra spots will be available in spring semester 2014. It will be used to provide financial assistance to students, offering preschool education for students' children ages 2-5, according to Nick Kallieris, CLC director of resource development and legislative affairs.
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The college estimates eight students at each campus will need full-time child care and 12 will need part-time child care. Eligible students must meet income guidelines, including qualifying for a Federal Pell grant.
CLC is one of only two schools in Illinois to receive the grant, and the college's grant proposal scored a perfect 103 points.
"The (Department of Education) looked at what we had to offer, and one of the things they liked was that we've been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1991," said Sandy Groeninger, director of the Children's Learning Centers.
The NAEYC accreditation process includes a lengthy self-study, involving staff and parent feedback, as well as an on-site visit from the national association.
The experience of the CLC centers' staff was also a big plus, said Groeninger, who with Carlotta Conley at the Lakeshore Campus center has a combined 50-plus years of child care experience.
"We have three teachers here with 20-plus years of experience. You don't find that in most child care centers," she said.
The expansion of on-site child care is another way the college is addressing President Obama's goal of increasing community college graduation rates by 2020.
"One of the main roadblocks toward graduation for women with children is affordable and safe child care," Kallieris said.
Presently, CLC's two Children's Learning Centers care for 140 children of students, faculty, staff and community members. For more information, visit www.clcillinois.edu/depts/ccs.asp or call Groeninger at (847) 543-2345.