A helping hand

Tony Redell

College can be very stressful for some students, especially for those students who are also parents. Aside from doing homework, long nights studying, and taking exams, these parents also worry about who is going to take care of their children while they are in class.

The Northern Kentucky University Early Childhood Center is making this easier for parents by offering evening child care to students, faculty, and staff in addition to the full day child care that is currently available.

Melanie Caldwell, Director of the Early Childhood Center, said there were a lot of requests for evening childcare from students. To try and fill that demand the center applied for and received a Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) Grant from the United States Department of Education. The biggest component from the grant is the evening program.

The goal of the Early Childhood Center is to provide a safe, nurturing, and learning environment where children have the opportunities to exercise all developmental domains through play, discovery, problem-solving and the unique experiences facilitated by dedicated teachers and staff. This childhood center has a really good program, Caldwell said. “I am pleased with what we have to offer, great teachers and great work studies that have pride in the center and want to do their best,” she said.

Aside from the evening program the center also provides full-day childcare, preschool, pre-kindergarten, and a summer enrichment program.

The evening program is more relaxed than the highly structured program during the day, Caldwell said. “A lot of the kids aren’t interested in set activities, they like to play because most of them are in school all day,” she said.

Caldwell also said that some of the children like to do their homework at the program so the teachers will take time to help them if needed.

Enrollment in the evening program is on an as needed basis. If a student has a class on Tuesday and Thursday, and needs care for those two days only, then those are the only days the student pays for. The evening program is very convenient for many students. Cheryl McClain, a senior organizational studies major and NKU staff member likes the flexibility of the evening program.

“It [the program] is great, and now with the night hours you can take one class a week and just pay for that,” McClain said. “If you are not a full-time student you don’t need care all of the time.”

Laurie Bass’s husband Patrick, a junior business management major, takes classes in the evening. Bass picks their children up at the center on her way home from work.

“There is an hour or two between when he is in class and I get off of work,” Bass said. “This has been a big help to us.”

Bass also likes the program because her children have activities to do while they are there, such as working on computers instead of just sitting around.

Maria Wiedeman, a senior elementary education major, teaches at the center and also has her daughter enrolled. “It is nice for me because I work here and my child goes here; that way, I am not away from her that much,” she said.

Wiedeman said that aside from being very convenient for parents the center helps children gain a lot of social skills and gets them better equipped for school. Wiedeman thinks that adding the evening program was a great idea.

“There was a class that I needed for graduation and the only time that it was offered was at night and I didn’t have to look for someone to watch my daughter,” she said.

Childcare is available to children of NKU students, faculty and staff as well as members of the community. Priority is given to children of NKU students based on scheduling availability and students also receive a discounted tuition rate.

When students enroll their children in the program everyone fills out the same paperwork, which is evaluated by the director of the program to see if they qualify for any form of childcare assistance.

The center awards $10,000 in childcare scholarships a year to students who have children enrolled in the program. These scholarships are given in the middle of both the Fall and Spring semesters, and the money is divided between the students that are eligible that semester. In order to receive the scholarship a person must already be enrolled in the program, have the financial need, and be eligible for the Federal Pell Grant.

Evening childcare is available for children ages 2-12 (must be fully potty trained) Monday through Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. The center also participates in the Federal Food Program for free or reduced lunches.

The staff includes a director, two preschool teachers, a pre-kindergarten teacher, parent educator/evening care coordinator, and work-study students.

For more detailed information call

572-6338 or visit www.nku.edu/~ecc/