Childcare vouchers help NAU educate two generations - AZEdNews
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Childcare vouchers help NAU educate two generations

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  • JJ Boggs/ Northern Arizona University

A Student At Northern Arizona University's Graduation With A Child. Photo Courtesy Northern Arizona University

Balancing work, family and education can be tough. Northern Arizona University (NAU) is helping to alleviate some of that for its 30,000 students, through a childcare voucher program.

Childcare vouchers help NAU educate two generations Screenshot_20190428-152633_Snapchat-182x300

Available to all student parents, whether attending undergraduate, graduate, online or at local campuses, the vouchers are helping to ensure that children have access to quality early learning, while also freeing up student parents to focus on their courses and graduate on time.

This mission is in keeping with NAU’s student-centric approach to learning.

How the childcare vouchers are funded

Previously funded by a federal grant, the vouchers have been available since 2009. After the grant ended in 2013, NAU continued the program as part of their commitment to student success.

A simple online application is all it takes. Students need to be enrolled in at least three credits and meet the criteria to receive a Federal Pell Grant. Once they’ve chosen from among the approved childcare providers, students will receive as much as $65 per week per child to assist with the costs of childcare.

Why quality childcare is so important

In Arizona, only one in four children are enrolled in quality learning settings, putting many behind when they enter kindergarten. The university’s childcare voucher program is helping the state work toward the Arizona Education Progress Meter goal of increasing the number of 3- and 4-year-olds receiving a quality early education as well as assisting more students in obtaining a degree or certificate.

Leadership at the university is committed to the program since student parents face unique barriers to making their own education a priority. A college degree can drastically increase earning potential, and early childhood education plays a crucial role in future academic success.

With almost 50 NAU student parents participating this year, more than 60 youth are currently benefiting from quality early learning experiences, putting them on a path to their own attainment. And it’s no surprise that so many are taking advantage of the opportunity. In the U.S., an estimated 5 million undergraduate students are also parents. And with that figure on the rise, these students will need support to continue their educational journey.

For more success stories from across Arizona, visit the Expect More Excellence Tour.