The bill provides $75 million for the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program, an increase of $10 million above the FY 2022 enacted level. This increase will help parenting students juggling caring for their children while going to school and working. However, the omnibus falls short of the $95 million for CCAMPIS that was requested by the Biden-Harris Administration and proposed in the House and Senate LHHS-ED bills earlier this year.
Today, four million college students are parents of dependent children, representing more than one in five undergraduates and one in three graduate students in the United States. Parenting students are disproportionately at-risk of basic needs insecurity; 70 percent of parenting students experience basic needs insecurity, compared to 55 percent of students without children. Expanding on-campus child care has become even more essential given the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion rights, the declining availability of on-campus child care centers, and the increasing cost of child care, which has reached a national average of $10,600 per year. Due to significant need, there are 55 organizations calling Congress to increase CCAMPIS funding to $500 million to support approximately 100,000 more parenting students.
The bill also directs ED establish a more reasonable cap on the amount of funding colleges can get through CCAMPIS—a key request from The Hope Center. Revising this cap will help the grants more accurately reflect the costs of providing convenient child care options for students. Community colleges in particular have struggled with the historically small size of CCAMPIS grant award, which has been limited to only a fraction of the Pell Grant funding their students receive. The Hope Center looks forward to working with ED to establish a common-sense maximum grant level that adequately supports the needs of student parents. We also encourage colleges to begin preparing for the fiscal year 2023 grant competition.
The omnibus also provides a historic 30 percent increase for the Child Care Development Block Grant, the primary federal child care assistance program which funds the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF). While this substantial increase will help many families, CCDF excludes many parenting students and their children due to restrictive and confusing state eligibility rules. The Hope Center looks forward to working with states to expand access to CCDF, and with colleges and ED to conduct outreach to students about the availability of CCDF.