GARDNER — Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) has received a Career Readiness and Educational Access Grant from the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. This grant will enable the community college to expand its Child Watch drop-in program for student-parents to use while they are on campus attending classes, meeting with advisors, participating in study groups, or otherwise working toward their degrees.
“In its first year, over 50 students utilized the child watch, but this only scratches the surface of the current need,” said Ann Reynolds, CCAMPIS Advisor at MWCC. “This program has helped our parenting students to stay in school. Childcare is an overlooked basic need for many student parents.”
The Child Watch program was launched in April 2022 with support from the federally-funded Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) project and the federal work-study program. The Child Watch program provides children with enrichment, play, and socialization with peers and the opportunity to see their parents pursue academics, creating a family value tied to academic growth and perseverance.
“By providing childcare for student parents, MWCC will help to increase educational access and equity for parents and create a pathway for parents to earn their degree and obtain gainful employment to support their families,” said MWCC President James Vander Hooven.
For many student-parents, access to childcare can mean the difference between earning their degree or dropping out. With many of our parenting students attending part-time or in the evenings, the lack of evening childcare leads parents to take fewer classes and increases their time to graduation. Additionally, parents with unreliable childcare options may miss significant numbers of classes, leading to a decrease in their academic performance and possible loss of financial aid.
In addition to the expanded child watch program, MWCC has a number of programs for parenting students including the Parent Support Group, Family Resource Center, and Lactation Room and hosts the MOC Child Care and Head Start Services at the Garrison Center for Early Childhood Education.
More information on these programs is available at mwcc.edu/student-parents.