In a joint effort by the University of California, Riverside’s Early Childhood Services (ECS) and their Women’s Resource Center (WRC), a $3.8 million grant was received through the Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program (CCAMPIS), in order to help assist student-parents attending the school. UCR has been awarded the CCAMPIS grant 2 times prior to this, once in 2014, and once again in 2018. The grant is planned to be distributed over the course of the next four years, beginning in 2022-2023 and ending in 2026.
ECS is a program that provides care for children, from infancy up until 5 years old, as well as having a private kindergarten program. They provide this service for students attending campus, faculty, as well as the general community, and operate 14 classrooms, with a little over 200 children split between both centers. On top of that they also host training and workshops to offer support to parents outside of childcare, refer them to sources if need be, as well as supporting the parents themselves as they balance attending school while also raising a child.
The WRC is a part of the Ethnic and Gender Centers in Costo Hall at UCR. They, as a program, provide support to student parents, women’s health, advocate for gender equity, as well as many other things. Overall, they aim to “build community and support people in practicing self-care as well” as noted by the Director of the WRC, Nina Ruedas. The WRC works with other campus organizations such as R’Kids and the ECS to secure funds, advocate for utilities, and organize events and garner basic needs and support for student-parents.
According to the Director of the ECS, Dr. Davina M. Bailey, a majority of the grant is going to ensure that student-parents have access to quality childcare, so that they can “have a safe space for their children to be at while they’re in school. So as long as they meet the eligibility criteria, which really is just a matter of being eligible for Pell Grant, they are eligible for the program, and that the program is totally free. The goal of this is to help with retention and to ensure that student-parents are graduating, and to increase those graduation rates over time.”
Additionally, she mentions that while there is a waitlist for the program, there are specific allocated spaces for subsidized care, and that up to 24 kids, depending on the program, will be guaranteed a space. They also receive other grants from both the state and federal level that help subsidize additional spots, and make it so that the cost of care is covered for.
The CCAMPIS grant allows ECS, as a nationally accredited program, to provide quality care to the community. Bailey states that “between the ages of zero to three, 90% of the brain is developed, and it’s important to ensure that children have quality experiences because it impacts their future development. It helps set the foundation for future development and successes, so it is important that they are getting quality care from seasoned educators.
The WRC is planning on starting a committee where they work with other departments that also assist student-parents in order to have a greater impact overall. Ruedas states that by making it a “more collaborative effort, wecan better figure out how to spend the funding in order to have a greater impact, because not all parents at UCR come through the WRC for assistance.”
They are also planning on hosting many events. Some at Oban, the school’s family housing option, where they create activities for the kids, and work together with basic needs to provide essentials that can help families. As well as working to have a family graduation when funds are secured. Thy are also aiming to host a conference sometime in August, where they hope to collaborate with the school’s School of Medicine, where they bring in speakers specializing in pediatrics and psychiatry to bring people across the campus together and create a community for them to create connections with each other and learn more about resources and organizations in the Inland Empire.
Anna Martinez, the student-parent representative at the WRC also recalls her own experience advocating for resources, with “R’Kids being a student-parent organization that is created by the students at UCR to create advocacy for other student-parents by helping them find their voice to seek resources. Because sometimes even though resources are there at times, they feel as if they are just out of reach. We also use funds for events like Family Love, where the goal is to just gather the community in order to meet one another and network. It was actually through UCR where I met my first student-parents and I was able to network and grow that community because I truly thought I was alone”
It was through R’Kids that parents were able to advocate for spaces around school like the lactation rooms that are available throughout the campus, as well as stalls in restrooms that have stations to change diapers for children. And while the change has been occurring slowly, the goal is to use part of the funding to advocate for resources like this in order to help make the campus more accommodating to student-parents.