Florida A&M students with children between the ages of 2 1/2 to 5 years old only have to pay $350 a month at FAMU’s New Beginnings Child Development Center and $175 if they are Pell Grant recipients.
Director Reva Myers, was inspired while working in Atlanta’s Fulton County school system, where she saw young children missing the critical individual attention they needed.
In 1987, FAMU’s Student Government Association conducted a survey to assess the need for campus-based child care. After the renovations were completed on an older facility, the center opened on FAMU Way in 1989.
New Beginnings has since served FAMU and the community by offering affordable child care. The center currently assists 106 families.
This year, in an effort to increase the university’s retention rate, student-parents awarded the Pell Grant receive free evening care from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for children aged 2 1/2 to 12. Students also receive a 50 percent discount on monthly tuition.
Other parents not awarded the grant pay $3 an hour for evening care.
“Ninety-five percent of the enrolled children have parents that are recipients of the grant,” Myers said. “It is a blessing for them.”
The center is primarily funded by SGA and parents’ tuition fees. However, the U.S. Department of Education’s “Child Care Access Means Parents in School” program also helps support centers that primarily serve the needs of low-income college students.
According to Myers, the staff is comprised of employees with master’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, child development associate credentials, and first aid and CPR certifications. Every worker gets background screenings and additional training before interacting with the children.
Coordinator of educational programs and FAMU graduate, Josie Rivera, has had 20 years of experience as a teacher and believes hands-on learning is essential in positively influencing the children she works with.
“When a child misbehaves, I will go sit with them and tell them to think about what just happened,” said Rivera.
“I try to get them to understand why what they did was inappropriate behavior.”
The center provides more than just a place for the students to stay. Each month, the center has a theme to help educate the children about the world around them.
Police officers and fire fighters were among the special visitors for this month’s theme of community helpers. Breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack are also sponsored each day by the USDA.
Quanta Thomas, 25, a senior early childhood education student from Miami and a Pell Grant recipient, enrolled her son last fall and already sees a change.
“My son is an only child and was homeschooled before attending [New Beginnings],” she said. “His knowledge has expanded, and his social skills have improved.”
“We give them a great foundation so that when they progress to the secondary educational level, they are ready,” Rivera said.
For more information about New Beginnings child care services call 599-3267 or 599-3618.