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Child care funding for students with children more than doubles

Family Services Workgroup Members include:  First Row – Jyoti Khetan, GPSA Student-Partner Representative; Catherine Thrasher-Carroll,  Gannett Health Services; Jo Ann  Molnar-Keiffer, Student Health Benefits; Father Dan McMullin, Cornell United Religious Works.  Second Row –Brandon John Forde Gheller, GPSA Student-Parent Representative; Laura Weiss, Cornell Women’s Resource Center; Linda Majani, Residential & New Student Programs/Hasbrouck Community Center; Janna Lamey, Graduate School.  Not pictured:  Michelle Artibee, Career/Life Services, Kris Corda, Big Red Barn Graduate and Professional Student Center; Stephanie Martin, GPSA Student-Parent Representative; Markeisha Miner, Law School, Adriana Rovers, International Students and Scholars Office; Jai Sweet, College of Veterinary Medicine; Rhonda Velazquez, Johnson Graduate School of Management.

By Nancy Doolittle

Child care grant funding for students with children will more than double for academic year 2015-16, President Elizabeth Garrett announced last month. Funding will increase from $100,000 to $250,000.

The Student Child Care Grant Program assists Cornell students with covering the costs of eligible child care, including infant and toddler child care, pre-school/pre-K care, summer camp programs for school-age children, and before- and after-school care for children ages 13 and younger. Cornell students can receive a taxable grant each year based on grant funds available, the students’ annual household income and the ages and number of children in care. The deadline to apply for this grant program is Oct. 16. All undergraduate and graduate and professional students who are eligible are encouraged to apply.

“We are so pleased to increase these dedicated resources to help meet the needs of our students with families,” said Kent L. Hubbell, the Robert W. and Elizabeth C. Staley Dean of Students. “The grants represent a significant contribution to the quality of student life at Cornell and, we hope, lessen some of the stresses that come with studying and raising a family at the same time.”

Senior Vice Provost and Graduate School Dean Barbara Knuth noted, “Attention to students with families is another strong signal from our new university leadership that the quality of the student experience and support for students’ overall success are top priorities for Cornell going forward.”

The increased funding impacts both the number of grants that can be awarded and the amount of each grant. Last year, the maximum child care grant for families with infants, toddlers and preschoolers was $1,600. For 2015-16, the maximum amount has been raised to $3,800. Parents with school-age children enrolled in child care received grants of $780 last year; for 2015-16, the maximum will be $2,500. The amount for summer camp expenses was $200; now it is $400.

“Based on historical trends, we estimate that Cornell’s Student Child Care Grant Program will support 68 families who have a total of 96 children in 2015-16,” said Janna Lamey, assistant dean for graduate student life and chair of the Graduate and Professional Community Initiative (GPCI) Family Services Workgroup that advocated for greater support for student-parents. Last year the grant supported a record number of families, 59, with 78 children, Lamey said.

Lamey also noted that the workgroup has been focusing its effort on communication with student-parents and implementing programs to support a community of students with families. In spring 2015, the workgroup implemented a monthly Time Out program at the Cornell Child Care Center, providing care for children while students and their partners have an opportunity to meet, network and support one another. A monthly Graduate and Professional Student Spouse and Partner Happy Hour at the Big Red Barn also has begun with high participation rates. To connect with workgroup efforts, the group has launched a new Facebook site.

“The announcement of increased funding for child care so early in President Garrett’s tenure is a promising sign of commitment to students with families,” said Brandon John-Forde Gheller, Ph.D. graduate student and a Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GPSA) student-parent representative on the Family Services Workgroup. “To my family the child care grant means extra comfort and freedom.”

For Stephanie Martin, Ph.D. student and GPSA student-parent representative on the Family Services Workgroup, the child care grant has been especially useful for her after-school and summer needs. “Child care in Ithaca can be very expensive – especially on a student budget – and this program will help a lot of students with kids. I appreciate that the funds cover child care programs offered during after school hours and in the summer,” she said.

More information on the student child care grant program, including eligibility requirements and application forms, can be found at the Students with Children website. For application questions about the Student Child Care Grant Program, email Marie Roller at mr36@cornell.edu. For questions about the Family Services Workgroup efforts, email Janna Lamey at janna.lamey@cornell.edu.