Parents get shot at help in education

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 8, 2002

Selma’s best kept secret, Concordia College, just got better with the recent help of a $634,091 gift from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop a child enrichment program.

Coined a secret after their high ranking among other similar institutions, Concordia College will implement a Parent and Child Enrichment program beginning this fall. The program is designed to help student-parents get the education required for their own success while providing academic assistance for their children.

“It is not a day care it is an enrichment program that will help non-traditional students to enroll and complete a college program,” said Dr. Julius Jenkins, who is the president of Concordia College. “It will also help their children develop academically.”

The focus of the program is three-fold with the ultimate goal being to increase the graduation rate of student-parents. Concordia is addressing the needs of adequate child-care while providing a tuition free education for parents. In turn it helps the community because parents become more productive citizens, Jenkins said,

as well as

helping to strengthen parenting and relationship skills among families.

Implementation of the program was made possible by a gift from the Kellogg Foundation in an effort to help low-income parents with children have a greater access to post secondary education. The grant will be administered over the course of four years, and afterwards Concordia will administer 100 percent of the program’s cost.

The child enrichment program will combine cultural and academic activities for children ages 3-12 years-old. In an effort to personalize the program to each individual child’s needs, parents will be required to participate weekly in the program’s activities. The program’s instructors are expected to work closely will each child’s teacher to reinforce and enhance their regular academic requirements.

“We view this with a great deal of excitement because we are making an education possible for parents not otherwise able to attend college because of child care, and we are providing something much greater than child care we are offering child enrichment,” Jenkins said. “We are making it easier for student-parents to enroll by offering them a peace of mind. This helps to eliminate issues such as homework problems because those things are taken care of during the enrichment activities.”

The program will be staffed by two full-time administrators, a director and an assistant director. Additional staffing will include students doing observation to fulfill their degree requirements and parents of the children enrolled in the program. It is expected to operate from 4:30 to 9:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Staffing of the program is unique in that students who would normally do observation have an opportunity to receive hands on training with the children of the program, while working closely with the child’s regular instructors. It will also help some students decide if education is the area they want to pursue. Applications are still being accepted for the two full-time positions.

“Parents will be admitted to the program based on the needs of the family. They have to be willing to have the child involved and to work in partnership with the institution,” Jenkins said. “Applications will be dated as they are received and the income and status of the parents eligibility will be evaluated.”

Spaces for the program are limited but are expected to grow each year as the program grows, Jenkins said. Therefore, applications will be reviewed on a first come, first serve basis.

Parents interested in being a part of the Parent and Child Enrichment Program or persons interested in an administrative position should contact the Dean of Academic Affairs at Concordia College for additional information.