Senator Highlights Need to Help Parents in Minnesota and Across Nation Access Childcare, Including Student Parents Working to Attain College Degree or Workforce Training Program

U.S. Senator Tina Smith recently launched her “Childcare Access and Affordability” listening sessions across Minnesota, and back in Washington, she’s taking what she’s learning from the state to work on behalf of parents who are attending higher education but lack access to adequate child care options.

Sen. Smith recently signed on as a cosponsor of the Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) Reauthorization Act, which would help meet the needs of student parents who often struggle to find reliable, affordable child care. In addition, Sen. Smith has joined a group of her colleagues in calling on Senate funding negotiators to provide strong support for on-campus child care programs as they finalize this year’s comprehensive spending bill.

“I’ve made child care access and affordability a top priority because I’ve been listening to Minnesotans from across the state, and I know how much this matters to them,” said Tina Smith. “My office has heard from a young woman who shared that when she had her daughter at 20, she didn’t think higher education would be an option for her. But through a child care program on a college campus, she could pursue a degree and she had hope for the future. When Minnesotans share their stories, I listen. That’s why I’m proud to support efforts to help parents—including those working on a degree or training program—access childcare.”

You can read more about Sen. Smith’s Child Care Access and Affordability listening session kickoff here, the Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) Reauthorization Act here, and the letter sent to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies below:

Dear Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Murray:

As you work to finalize the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill, we request that you provide significant new funding for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program. The CCAMPIS program helps to meet the urgent needs of student parents enrolled in higher education who are working to attain a college degree or workforce training to provide economic security for themselves and for their children.

Within the recent agreement to raise overall spending caps was a commitment to invest an additional $2 billion in each of the next two fiscal years on “student-centered programs that aid college completion and affordability.” This new investment provides a historic opportunity to address some of the vast demand for on-campus child care from millions of students who are parents. Student parents experience the tremendous pressure of college costs for both themselves and their families and struggle to pay for child care services on top of tuition, fees, food, rent, books, supplies, transportation, and other costs.

To help address these challenges, the CCAMPIS program supports campus-based child care programs primarily serving the needs of low-income students. Approximately 1.4 million Pell Grant recipients today have with children between the ages of 0 and 5, and 4.8 million students in higher education have dependent children. Among single parents with children, 88 percent have incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Unfortunately, most students are not able to access existing child care programs, their options are often unaffordable, and child care centers located on campus are rare or often have substantial wait lists. Additionally, the current levels of funding for CCAMPIS are only able to meet a tiny fraction of student demand for accessible and quality on-campus child care.

We hope that you will consider a significant increase to the CCAMPIS program as part of the FY 2018 appropriations measure and use a sizeable portion of the new $2 billion in college affordability funding to help meet the needs of student parents. The Administration has also proposed to increase CCAMPIS funding to $50 million for FY 2018, and we ask that you substantially exceed this amount. Providing adequate child care resources to student parents will help to improve both college completion and affordability. Thank you for your consideration.