Framingham State is providing grants to help students pay for the childcare services offered on campus at the Center for Early Childhood Education as well as the Jeanne M. Canelli Child Development Lab.
According to an email sent by Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development, “The money to go to childcare is part of a donation that is to be used for emergency funding for students who are experiencing food and/or housing insecurities and other financial distress. I requested that I be able to offer some of the money for on-campus childcare.”
This grant will be need-based, rather than a fixed amount, according to Holloway.
She said the number of grants available to students will depend on how many students are in need of these services.
All FSU faculty, staff, students and alumni receive a discount on the cost of childcare services on campus.
The Center for Early Childhood Education is located at 2 Church Street on campus and the child development lab is located in the Hemenway Annex.
Holloway said she doesn’t know the number of students who have children. “I think students who have dependents might declare this on the FAFSA, but I don’t think we keep track of that.”
Valerie Hytholt, director of the Child Development Lab, said in order for students to qualify for the grant, their income eligibility and financial aid needs to be reviewed.
She said, “The biggest benefit to the childhood development lab is that we have college students working in here. … There may be two teachers for 18 children, which is what’s required by the state, but then we also have three to five college students working.”
Hytholt said the FSU students are “enthusiastic and creative” about teaching, which helps keep the lab “fresh.”
She said children are offered more attention and guidance than at most private preschools. There are “more eyes and hands to help” at the centers on campus.
Hytholt said both the child development lab and the early childhood center always have two licensed Department of Education teachers present. This qualification is higher than what is required at outside childcare facilities.
“I hope this grant will increase the students’ children enrollment numbers,” she said.
According to Hytholt, “The best thing is proximity. We are right here on campus, and we are flexible. Especially in the early childhood center, we can meet their [students’] needs and it doesn’t have to be pre-programmed.”
She added this type of flexibility with schedules is difficult to find at private childcare facilities.
The Center for Early Childhood Education is open from 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m., which allows students to drop their children off before early classes and pick them up later in the day, she added.
Hytholt said there is currently space, although not a lot, for enrollment in both programs, and she encourages students to apply. “I just think they will benefit because that’s one less thing and that’s a huge concern. Childcare is not cheap.”
Children can be enrolled year-round or by semester. However, Hytholt said a full year is preferred “for continuity for the child.” Childcare services are available during the summer semester as well.
Senior John Crowe said, “I do think it would be beneficial to have my child attend an on-campus day care for the simple reason of having her close to me. People, especially young college students and individuals with no child, underestimate the importance of being as close as possible to your child.”
Crowe said he has never had to use any childcare services because “all care is through family members.” He added if that were not the case, then this would be an option he would consider.
Senior Amber Schriever said, “Many people attending college with children may not be able to work as many hours, and it can be a financial burden to pay for childcare services. Receiving any financial help to curb those costs would benefit any family greatly.”
According to Schriever, the transportation to daycare facilities “can be time-consuming and can affect the times you can attend class.”
She added she would also consider applying for the grant services to help pay for her childcare services. “The benefits include spending more time with your child, less in traffic and being able to focus on your studies instead of childcare needs.”
Hytholt said, “I’m just excited we are offering this type of aid because child care is expensive, and both locations are based on best practices of what research says about early childhood education. We’re at the forefront in child care.”