Missouri S&T will establish a child care center on campus after winning a multimillion-dollar grant as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act Child Care Plan.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced on Friday, Oct. 2, that Missouri S&T would receive $2,710,252 to provide child care to the Rolla region.
“Access to quality child care is critical for working families, and attending college is often a full-time job,” Parson said. “With this funding, we have an opportunity to not only expand access to child care for student parents, but also strengthen our early childhood offerings, both of which are crucial to developing a strong workforce and moving our state forward.”
Missouri S&T interim Provost Stephen Roberts, the grant’s lead author, says the facility will transform Rolla and Phelps County into a more desirable home for university students and employees.
“The Little Miners Child Care Center will help satisfy one of our community’s greatest needs by providing affordable, high-quality child care,” says Roberts. “The establishment of a child care center has been a long-time priority for our staff, faculty and students who are parents of small children, and the center will become fully integrated into our diverse and vibrant campus life. It will certainly benefit from the stability of location at a public land-grant university with a 150-year history of growth and continuous operation.”
Missouri awarded grants to five university campuses to expand access to high-quality child care, especially for low-income families, by requiring that at least 30 percent of the children enrolled be eligible for child care subsidies.
“We’re pleased to be able to serve low-income families because we can provide high-quality child care to our students, employees, staff and community members,” says Dr. Kathy Northcut, Missouri S&T’s interim vice provost of academic support and co-author of the grant. “The university has been attempting to establish a child care center for more than a decade.”
At Missouri S&T, the Little Miners Child Care Center (LMC3) will be located at 1207 N. Elm St. in the Southwestern Bell Cultural Center. The university will use the majority of the grant funding to remodel the building to meet health, safety and sanitation standards. The facility will enroll up to 76 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years.
LMC3 will provide relief for families in Phelps County, where only 11% of demand for child care is met with existing licensed facilities, according to a 2018 Missouri Budget Project report. Qualifying members of the community include undergraduate students, graduate students, campus staff, faculty and Rolla area workers.
In accordance with Missouri S&T’s mission, the university chose STEM-focused curricula to provide the children a solid start on these subjects. LMC3 will include an outdoor container garden, and students will have the opportunity to care for the plants, fruits, vegetables and herbs grown on site. The center’s program services will be developed in partnership with S&T’s teacher education and certification department and the early childhood program of The Community Partnership of Rolla, a local non-profit that provides services for children and families.
Roberts says the child care center also helps meet S&T’s objective of inclusive excellence by improving access for and retention of underrepresented students, staff and faculty. He says the university is always seeking ways to improve recruitment of women and underrepresented populations.
The center will open by fall 2021 after renovations to the building are complete and a director and staff are hired and trained.