For the first time in its 54-year history, the St. Louis Community College campus at Forest Park is able to offer on-site childcare, thanks to a $4 million CARES Act grant.
In Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s announcement of the grant Jan. 6, he noted that attending college is “often a full-time job.” With the grant, STLCC will repurpose existing space in the physical education building into a 15,000-square-foot child care center. That center, Parson said, will be able to serve up to 60 children at any given time. In fall 2020, more than 15,000 students attended St. Louis Community College, with 5,000 being full-time students.
The school’s Florissant Valley campus already operates a nationally-recognized Child Development Laboratory Center, charging students $5 a day to provide child care. Programs and services at the Forest Park campus child care center will be modeled after those offered at Florissant Valley.
In addition, the Forest Park center will allow students in the College’s Child and Family Development Program to gain hands-on experience in the classroom. Students in that program are working toward an associates degree, which will prepare them to work with children under the age of 8.
Jeff L. Pittman, chancellor of St. Louis Community College, said he hoped that this center will help give students the incentive to stay in the program long enough to complete their degrees.
“Child care is a retention and completion issue for our students,” Pittman said. “Many have to make the decision between remaining enrolled in college to make progress toward completing a degree, or staying at home with a child or children.”
During the first round of CARES Act grant distribution in April 2020, STLCC received 4,363,632 to assist students to cover the cost of expenses incurred as a result of the coronavirus, as well as another $4.3 million for institutional purposes. These funds were distributed primarily through scholarship, such as the “Take A Class On Us” program, which allowed 6,000 students to take a community college class for free. CARES stands for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,
This month’s grant is part of a program focusing on on-campus child care across Missouri.
“The addition of a child care center to the Forest Park campus will provide a much-needed resource for our students with children,” said Julie Fickas, campus president and chief academic officer, STLCC-Forest Park. “This will open up the door of opportunity to many who would like to enroll in classes, but who have not had accessible child care.”
According to an STLCC news release, it will be 12-18 months before the Forest Park campus child care center begins welcoming families.
More details about child care and classes at STLCC can be found at stlcc.edu.