North Carolina Community Colleges Offering Child Care Support

In the midst of a child care crisis, community colleges play a vital role in connecting families with child care access and in bridging the gap between communities and the necessary early childhood educators.

According to Robin Warfield, who conducted research on the correlation between early childhood education and community colleges, any sustainable child care solution will inherently incorporate community colleges.

“They are inextricably linked,” noted Warfield, who has experience teaching early childhood education at Alamance Community College and currently serves as the Birth-to-3 Coaching Manager for the NC Birth to Three Quality Initiative at the Child Care Services Association.

Economists have characterized the child care industry as a flawed market due to the inability of child care providers to offer high-quality early care and education at an affordable price for most families. As federal relief funds for child care are set to expire on June 30, and discussions in the legislature are ongoing regarding the extension of assistance and its magnitude, the existing challenges may exacerbate.

Looking ahead, Warfield emphasizes the importance of including colleges in the discourse.

Community colleges play a pivotal role in reducing obstacles on both fronts by assisting families in affording and accessing child care while bolstering the early childhood educator pipeline.

These colleges, since their establishment, have actively trained the early childhood teacher workforce, continuously integrating it into their programs.

Moreover, a select number of North Carolina’s community colleges operate on-campus child care programs, with 13 colleges reportedly maintaining active on-site programs, while four have closed their programs over the past four years.

Crystal Harvey, the director of the Carol L. Danforth Early Childhood Lab at Forsyth Technical Community College, underscores the significance of such programs in removing substantial barriers that may hinder students’ academic success and providing enhanced learning opportunities for aspiring early childhood educators.

Furthermore, colleges utilize various funding sources, including state and federal grants, private donations, and private tuition, to support student parents in affording child care services.

The financing challenges faced by on-site programs reflect the broader hurdles within the industry, highlighting the necessity of external funding to attract students to early childhood programs and sustain both on-site and off-site initiatives.

Warfield advocates for the establishment of high-quality on-site child care programs that cater to students and the community, emphasizing the economic imperative for these services.

The following community colleges in North Carolina have been identified by EdNC as actively operating on-site child care programs:

– Alamance Community College
– Cape Fear Community College
– Davidson-Davie Community College
– Halifax Community College
– Haywood Community College
– Johnston Community College
– McDowell Technical Community College
– Nash Community College
– Piedmont Community College
– Sandhills Community College
– Southeastern Community College
– Vance-Granville Community College
– Wayne Community College

An underrepresented population, student parents have found significant support at Forsyth Tech, exemplified by the SPARC (Student Parent Advocacy Resource Center) initiative, aimed at helping students access child care, engage in drop-in care partnerships, host expos, and establish community-building spaces.

SPARC’s funding derives from various sources, including the state’s community college child care grant program, the John M Belk Endowment’s NC Reconnect initiative, and the federal Child Care Access Means Parents In School (CCAMPIS) grant, ensuring flexible support for student parents during times of need.

Shanta Reddick, the driving force behind Forsyth Tech’s efforts, draws from her personal experiences to champion student parents, intending to provide them with a voice, resources, and emotional support to navigate hurdles and excel academically.

Maya Clay’s success story at Forsyth Tech showcases the transformative impact of SPARC, emphasizing the invaluable role of dedicated support in empowering student parents to pursue their academic aspirations amidst personal challenges.

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