Calvert Family Advocates Offers Needs-Based Child Care Awards for Calvert County Parents Attending CSM

The College of Southern Maryland and a Calvert County nonprofit have teamed up to help motivated students for whom the cost of child care is an obstacle for reaching their educational goals.

Grants up to $1,200 per semester from Calvert Family Advocates have been established at CSM to assist Calvert County families in achieving self-sufficiency. In its second year, this program provides funds to supplement child care expenses, enabling parents to attend classes and study. Applications for the program are now being accepted.

“Many CSM students are also parents; the child care grant provides monetary support for day care expenses to help these students focus their resources on school,” said CSM Student Success Coordinator Laura M. Robins. “Having peace of mind that your child or children are safe and well cared for is the boost many students need to successfully receive their degree from CSM and obtain their career, academic and personal goals.”

“This grant is tremendously helping me out financially,” said Chelsea Coffren, 25, the first recipient of a child care grant. Coffren, a single mother of a 4-year-old, is pursuing a degree in social sciences at CSM. “It is allowing me to provide child care for my son, so I can focus better on my career and schooling at the same time,” she said.

Karen Lane, executive director of Calvert Family Advocates, said her organization believes education is a key factor in a parent's ability to provide for their families.

The grant program was designed to improve the retention rate of parents pursuing certificate or degree programs at CSM. “When we first presented the idea of a child care grant to Laura Robins, she welcomed the grant and said that the retention rate of students with children was poor. Most of these parents are working full time and are head of household,” Lane said. “With such full plates, it is difficult for the students to maintain their class schedule, and they often drop out of school.”

Coffren knows first-hand that juggling the responsibilities of being a mother, working full time and going to school can be challenging. “Finding time for everything is difficult,” she said. “Sometimes you feel like giving up, but you just keep going on for you, your family and your goals.” The long-term success outweighs the struggle, she said.

“Some nights you may find yourself exhausted, but you just have to keep going,” Coffren said. “I am forever grateful for the help I receive when it comes to achieving my degree.”

The mission of Calvert Family Advocates is to improve the lives of Calvert County's most vulnerable citizens by helping them help themselves, Lane said.

“We believe that by reducing the financial stress on these students they are more likely to stay in school and achieve their educational goals. With a certificate or degree from CSM they will have better job opportunities and therefore will be better able to care for their families,” she said.

Grant funding will be transferred from CFA to the child care provider for each month the student is enrolled. These needs-based grants will be offered as long as funding is available. The student may take courses at any CSM campus, online or both.

Applicants must reside in Calvert County. The child care provider must be licensed to operate in the state of Maryland. Funding will be based on need and the student's commitment to completing a certificate or degree program. Funding will cease if the student withdraws from classes.

Students must have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid on file at CSM. To remain eligible for grant funding each semester the student must provide:

? Proof of a passing 2.0 grade point average for most recent semester completed

? Proof of enrollment at CSM for the semester for which the grant funding is being requested

? Updated Section III (Educational Information) of the grant application

Applications are available at CSM's Prince Frederick Campus at 115 J.W. Williams Road and at Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Completed applications and supplemental information should be mailed to Calvert Family Advocates Child Care Grant Program, c/o Director, Calvert County Department of Social Services, 200 Duke St., Prince Frederick, MD 20678. For more information, email Kathy Knight at