TWIN FALLS — It can be extremely tough paying for child care — especially if you’re a college student.
The College of Southern Idaho received a four-year grant for nearly $240,000 in October through the U.S. Department of Education to help address the issue, the college announced Tuesday. Money through the Child Care Access Means Parents In School Program will be awarded to students who are parents.
It’s a scholarship program that allows low-income students who are eligible for a federal Pell Grant to receive financial help with paying a licensed child care facility.
“We have a very high number of students eligible for Pell grants,” said Tracey Meyerhoeffer, co-grant coordinator and CSI’s education department chairwoman. “Any one of them could access it.”
Students who are interested must fill out an application by Jan. 9. Funds are limited and are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Both part-time and full-time students are eligible, including those who take CSI classes at the college’s outreach centers in Burley, Jerome, Gooding and Hailey.
Of CSI’s student body, 47.7 percent of full-time students and 62.8 percent of part-time students are eligible for a Pell Grant.
South-central Idaho’s poverty rate hovers around 14.4 percent — about 2 percentage points higher than the nationwide average, Meyerhoeffer said. “With that high of a poverty rate, help with child care is essential.”
The average award will vary depending on each student’s financial needs, but will likely be more than $1,000 per semester, Meyerhoeffer said.
Another component of the grant: CSI will encourage local licensed child care centers to seek a higher rating with the IdahoSTARS child care network.
For CSI students who receive a scholarship, Meyerhoeffer said, they’ll have to meet a couple of requirements, including attending a few workshops on topics such as how to prepare their child for kindergarten.
“We’re trying to just bring all kinds of resources to parents.”