By Jonathan Sperling
Three City University of New York colleges located in Brooklyn and Queens are among the half-dozen CUNY colleges awarded a record $6 million in federal grants for early childhood learning centers, CUNY announced on Monday.
Brooklyn College in Flatbush, LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City and Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach were among the six colleges newly named to be recipients of the grant, which will benefit each school’s Early Childhood Center. There are currently 16 Early Childhood Centers serving 17 CUNY campuses and 1,600 children annually across the city.
“Early Childhood Centers provide services that are indispensable to thousands of CUNY student-parents who would otherwise find it far more difficult to continue pursuing their educational goals,” said CUNY’s Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz in a statement. “This additional funding enables more New Yorkers to stay in college and build a better future for themselves and their young families.”
The four-year grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Education through its Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program, which is designed to support primarily low-income students in need of child care. Although CUNY colleges have received grants through the program since its inception in 1999, the $5,976,180 that it received this year sets a record in terms of both the amount of funding obtained for each school’s child care centers and the number of CUNY schools that will benefit.
Baruch College, Bronx Community College and Lehman College were also new recipients of the grant, bringing the grand total of CUNY colleges that have received the grant up to nine. Medgar Evers College, New York City College of Technology and Borough of Manhattan Community College received the awards in 2017.
The bonus funding will go toward adding services to each college’s respective Early Childhood Center, as well as subsidizing enrollment costs and extending their hours of operation.
At LaGuardia, for example, the college’s Early Learning Center will be able to increase enrollment by 20 percent, from 219 children to at least 263, according to CUNY.
“I could not imagine dropping off my son somewhere, and then coming to LaGuardia,” said LaGuardia student Tracy Mingo, a 35-year-old single mom. “Here, it’s a one-stop shop. Knowing my son is nearby gives me so much comfort.”
At Kingsborough, the grant will allow over 90 percent of parents who utilizes the Early Childhood Center to pay as little as $1 per week for child care. Students will also be provided academic advising, financial aid and career counseling at the center, according to CUNY.
“All the services available on campus will be available right here,” said Heather Brown, director of the Child Development Center at Kingsborough, which cares for upwards of 60 children per semester and operates some 80.5 hours per week. “For a lot of parents, this will be a game changer.”