The road to earning a bachelor’s degree is often paved with commitment, tenacity, and a degree of maturity. For college students who are also parents, these qualities are critical elements of postsecondary success. The University of Kansas (KU) is home to multiple supports for student-parents, but finding the right combination of supports can be challenging. Of these critical supports, the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program helps student-parents at KU secure affordable quality childcare.

In 2018, KU’s Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP), in partnership with Hilltop Child Development Center, was awarded CCAMPIS, a US Department of Education discretionary grant. CCAMPIS offers financial, academic and social support to student-parents through Hilltop tuition scholarships, as well as individual advising and family workshops.

Omar Williams, a veteran of the US Navy, a first-generation college student, and a father, knows first-hand the challenges of being a student-parent. Prior to relocating to Kansas, Omar and his wife planned ahead financially to account for his one and a half-year-old daughter’s childcare expenses, which they knew would quickly add up. Omar and his wife’s first choice for childcare was Hilltop, KU’s affiliated childcare center. His toddler was placed on the waitlist but was not initially able to attend. This placed Omar and his wife in a situation to seek off-campus childcare. After exploring many options around town, Omar and his wife selected a childcare facility that they believed would be the best fit for their family. Unfortunately, this facility came with a high price tag. Omar was concerned with the exorbitant cost of childcare. “It was rough. It was like I was paying another college tuition.” The financial stress of affording quality childcare impacted Omar’s experience as a student-parent.

Once Omar’s daughter was selected to enroll at Hilltop, Omar and his wife were thrilled. Upon her acceptance, Omar applied for and was selected to become a CCAMPIS participant. CCAMPIS has helped to make quality childcare accessible for his family and his daughter’s time at Hilltop a reality. “My daughter and I go to school together. She loves it! The teachers at Hilltop take the time to really get to know their students and they understand her personality.”

Omar will be graduating this May with a bachelor’s degree in English, a minor in Sociology, and as a KU McNair Scholar. Upon graduation, Omar and his family will be moving to Texas, where he will begin a master’s program in Public Administration at The University of North Texas. When asked what receiving a bachelor’s degree will mean for his family, Omar described how his commitment to higher education will have long term impacts, “I didn’t have role models who had a college education. Achieving a degree and pursuing higher education not only positions my family in a better place financially, but it also sets a precedent for my children. You can do anything you want to do!”

TRIO | GEAR UP | CAMP | STEP UP — CEOP, building a legacy of learners and leaders through a commitment to educational equity. | @CEOPmedia

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