September 23, 2018  

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Center for Child Development Supporting USM Student Parents through CCAMPIS Project Grant

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The University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Child Development (CCD) helps low-income parents meet their goal of securing a postsecondary education with the provision of campus-based child care services via a CCAMPIS (Child Care Access Means Parents In School) project grant through the U.S. Department of Education.

Each month, CCAMPIS families receive subsidies toward their children’s (birth to age 5) tuition. The amount each parent is awarded depends on income, enrollment status, and parental stress levels. The grant also covers the monthly subsidies awarded to student parents in order for them to receive high quality childcare from the CCD at a greatly reduced rate, allowing them to better focus on their education and complete their degree in a timely manner. It also provides the CCD with supplies for its Family Resource Room, Parent Education Events, and other needed university and community services for CCAMPIS families.

The CCD first received CCAMPIS funds in 1999. The most recent grant award is $1,013,348, or $253,331 awarded annually for four years, and the CCD is approaching year two in the current grant funding cycle. The CCAMPIS Project Director is Dr. Angel Herring, director of Undergraduate Programs for the USM Department of Child and Family Studies Department; project co-director is Dr. Pat Sims, LMFT, chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies; Regan Deal-Linton, M.S., LMFT is the CCAMPIS Coordinator; and Stephanie Haney, M.S., CFLE is the CCCD director.

“Through CCAMPIS, the CCD strives to develop strong, positive relationships with student parents and their children by assisting families in finding resources and support in order for parents to complete their degree here at USM,” said Deal-Linton. ‘CCAMPIS benefits not only student parents, but also provides opportunities for each family at the Center for Child Development.”

CCAMPIS hosts two Parent Education Events each semester, along with monthly Parent Night Outs. At the Parent Education Events, community members with expertise in their field are asked to present to the parents at the CCD, with parents at the CCD determining topics. At the beginning of each semester, parents are surveyed about what they would like to learn more about. Recent topics presented include Positive Discipline and Promoting Pro-Social Behavior in Children.

During the Parent Night Out, the CCD’s hours are extended in order to allow CCAMPIS parents and non-CCAMPIS parents to re-energize and recharge. CCAMPIS’s Family Resource room is filled with financial literacy materials, canned foods, gently used clothes, toiletries, and many other items. If needed, the CCAMPIS coordinator will secure needed counseling services for CCAMPIS parents and families, who are offered two complimentary therapy sessions through the University Clinic for Family Therapy each semester they are enrolled in the project. Parent Support Groups are also offered twice a semester, facilitated by the CCAMPIS coordinator. Academic support is also available for CCAMPIS parents by the coordinator, connecting them with campus learning support services.

To support all CCAMPIS parents, after-hour child care is provided each semester in the weeks leading up to midterm and final exam weeks to allow parents extra academic prep and study time. Due to student parents being more likely to face financial difficulties than other groups, the coordinator links the families to campus and community-based services addressing the child’s and family’s identified needs. CCAMPIS parents are also eligible to opt-in for a monthly food program that consists of staple foods such as rice, dried beans, peanut butter, dried cereals, and canned vegetables and fruits. Supplies such as diapers, wipes, baby food, new and/or gently used children’s clothing and car seats can be purchased to assist student parents and their families.

Eagle’s Nest, a food pantry managed by graduate students of the Social Work Department, also has collaborated with the CCD to support CCAMPIS, and began the Backpack Program this past academic year. Each week, backpacks are filled with child-friendly foods and sent home weekly to children in need. Each semester, a financial aid representative is also invited for a Q&A with CCAMPIS parents.

The CCD provides high-quality educational and care services to children 8 weeks to 5 years old, and serves as an academic teaching and research facility for students and faculty across the university. The Center is dedicated to providing an environment that enhances the quality of life not only for the children enrolled, but for their families and for USM community participants and other observers as well.  

Enrollment of children regardless of race, ethnicity, or special needs addresses the practice of unconditional acceptance embraced by the Center as it provides loving care for the whole child. CCAMPIS provides students who student teach and conduct observations at the CCD the opportunity to work with children from various backgrounds, which helps prepare them to work in the community after graduation.

For more information about the Center for Child Development, visit https://www.usm.edu/center-child-development.