Tarrant County College to pilot child-care assistance program for student-parents

Beginning Summer 2020 and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education, Tarrant County College (TCC) will offer financial assistance to eligible student-parents to defray the costs for child care.  Initially, TCC’s Child-Care Assistance Program will serve approximately 125 eligible student-parents annually. The TCC Child-Care Assistance Program works jointly with Tarrant County Child Care Management Services (CCMS).

Through the Department’s Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant award of $1.5 million over the next four years – the largest amount given to a Texas two-year institution – TCC’s initial program will serve approximately 125 eligible student-parents annually and provide important data about the impact of child care assistance on student-parents’ graduation rates. Ultimately, TCC hopes to scale this pilot program to a larger, data-informed child care assistance program in conjunction with partner agencies to serve an even greater portion of the TCC population.

Funds from the CCAMPIS grant will subsidize costs for student’s children to attend a Texas Rising Star (TRS) four-star certified child-care center. Participants in the program will be relieved of 20 to 75 percent of the financial burden of child-care costs, representing an important step TCC is taking to remove obstacles to student graduation. In addition to receiving child-care assistance subsidies, participants will also participate in family enrichment sessions that will provide information for, and access, to resources designed to support students to achieve personal and academic success.

TCC identified the need to pursue the CCAMPIS grant during the 2016-2017 academic year, when the District engaged community stakeholders, faculty and staff in a visioning process to establish strategic priorities for the future. The process resulted in the creation of three goals – One College that is Student-Ready and Serves the Community – as well as eight principles to bring these goals to fruition.  One of the eight principles – the Integrated Student Success Model (ISSM) – is focused on identifying and/or improving access to resources designed to increase student success rates, program completion and graduation.  For 18 months, the ISSM team researched the topic of child care and its effect on student attendance and enrollment. More than 4,000 students completed the College’s child-care needs assessment survey in 2017-2018, with nearly half of the respondents reporting having children under the age of 13.  Ninety-three percent of the students agreed that if TCC offered child care, they would be willing to pay $200 or less per month (based on a sliding scale) for child care.  Nearly half of the student-parents surveyed indicated they could not afford child care and had to rely on family, friends and others to watch their children while they worked and attended classes. Students also indicated that if they were able to find affordable, quality child care, they could enroll in more classes each semester and subsequently, enjoy accelerated completion and employability.

Scheduled to open during the enrollment period for summer and fall 2020 classes, TCC’s Child-Care Assistance Program pilot will require interested student-parents to complete an online application with documentation to prove eligibility for participation. To be considered for participation, student-parents must:

  • Have completed a minimum of nine college credit hours;
  • Be Pell Grant-eligible;
  • Be enrolled in at least nine credit hours per semester at TCC in either an academic or technical program (six hours during the Summer sessions);
  • Maintain a cumulative 2.0 grade point average through the duration of their participation;
  • Participate in minimum of three CCAMPIS family enrichment sessions per year; and
  • Connect with the program coordinator at least three times per semester.

As part of their participation in TCC’s Child-Care Assistance Program, student-parents will be included in peer group support activities designed to help them connect and build relationships with other student-parents.

“For 55 years, TCC has been committed to helping students achieve academic success that leads to graduation and subsequently, meaningful employment that uplifts not only families, but our regional economy as well,” said Peter Jordan, president of TCC South and champion of the ISSM Principle. “Over the next four years, we believe the child care assistance pilot program will prove beneficial in removing an important barrier to our student-parent participants’ academic attainment while also yielding important data we can use to scale the program with community partners. Ultimately, our vision is to provide on-campus child care for a significantly larger student-parent population.”

In addition to the child care assistance program pilot, TCC has implemented other programs designed to remove obstacles to students’ success including its partnership with Trinity Metro, through which TCC students can ride the bus or Trinity Rail for free; the Emergency Assistance Fund, through which students may receive a one-time award to help with unexpected financial emergencies; on-campus food pantries and access to a learning diagnostician to provide free access to assessments designed to support students with unique learning needs.

[January 2021 Update: Applications to the Child-Care Assistance Program are currently closed.]