Fed Funding Helps Initiate Child Care at A&M International

In response to student requests, Texas A&M International University will initiate a pilot child development center on campus for its students this summer.

The University has received notification from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, that it will receive a four year grant totaling $98,984, under the Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) Program. This represents 37% of the

total cost of the project, the remaining 63% of the total cost will be financed by nongovernmental sources.

CCMAMPIS is dedicated to supporting the participation of low income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based childcare services. The grant provides seed money that will support facility renovation to meet state and national

guidelines for a developmentally appropriate child development center.

University president Dr. Ray Keck said news of the funding will enable the University to begin to realize a long-cherished dream.

"As our students, faculty and staff told us last Spring in a special Child Care Needs Survey, there is a growing need for on-campus child care. This program is a small beginning, but childcare will add a dynamic and needed dimension to our campus. We believe that the

availability of these services on campus will do much to encourage our students to continue their pursuit of higher education, " Dr. Keck said.

The competitive grant was authored by Dr. Linda Medearis, an early childhood education specialist from the College of Education faculty in cooperation with the University's Grant Resources Office. Dr. Medearis said the program will phase in over a three-year period.

"We will begin this summer with a small group of infants and toddlers for the first year. The second year, we will expand to include up to three-year-olds and then four-to five-year-olds thereafter. We hope to eventually serve in excess of 150 children," Medearis explained.

First priority for enrolled children will be those of Child Care Management Services (CCMS) criteria-meeting parents. CCMS provides the University with funding support for program participants which will fund program growth and expansion. Additional openings will be on a space available basis.

"In Laredo alone, there are over 600 CCMS-qualified children awaiting child care placement, so we are confident that we will be able to extend services to those whose parents wish to secure a postsecondary education at the University. We will work on additional funding support through other agencies and individuals," she explained.

The program focuses on cross-campus collaborations and will offer student and faculty research opportunities as well. A key goal is national accreditation within three years.

"Our early childhood education students will earn valuable educational experiences and parents of children who enroll will benefit from parenting classes we will offer. They can also offer in-kind service to the Center in exchange for childcare," she said.

"We will also secure national accreditation by meeting stringent national guidelines. This will mean that the Center will meet the highest standards of not only custodial but also cognitive developmental childcare, making it the only such Center of its kind in the Laredo area," she explained.

The Center will initially be located in C-building, but will later move to a stand-alone facility on the campus.

"Our initial space will be in an adapted area, but we will move to a stand-alone facility in the future. This will enable us to better accommodate children with a developmentally appropriate play area and dining areas," she said.

For additional information on the Texas A&M International University Child Development Center, please contact Dr. Medearis by email at lmedearis@tamiu.edu.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu