Skip Navigation

College News

Children’s Learning Center receives $371,952 grant to supplement childcare costs for low-income students

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Oct 27, 2017

The Children’s Learning Center at the College of Lake County is now able to provide assistance with childcare costs to 50 low-income students per year for the next four years, thanks to a $371,952 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant, amounting to $92,988 per year, began Oct. 1 and comes from the federal Child Care Access Means Parents in School program. The funding supports the participation of low-income parents in post-secondary education through the provision of campus-based childcare services. CLC is one of only two schools in Illinois to receive the grant, and the college’s proposal received a perfect score. It marks the second time in the last four years the college has received Department of Education (DoE) funding providing child care for low-income students. In 2013, CLC received a four-year, $500,220 grant.

One happy recipient of the funding is student Jessica Rios, a Round Lake resident who has brought her two children to the Grayslake Campus Children’s Learning Center for the past three semesters. “My kids love it, and without the help of the grant, they would not be able to stay there,” said Rios, a biology major who plans to earn an A.S. at CLC, a bachelor’s degree at Lake Forest College and eventually become a lab technician. “They’re getting excellent preparation for kindergarten, from learning social skills to doing creative painting and other practical, hands-on activities.”

Student Jessica Rios and her two daughtersPhoto: Jessica Rios, a biology major, has enrolled daughters Sara, left, and Allison, at the Children’s Learning Center at the Grayslake Campus, with the help of a federal grant.

Rios said the convenience of the onsite Children’s Learning Center gives her peace of mind as she attends classes at Grayslake three days a week. A side benefit is that she’s made friends with fellow students who also bring their children to the center. “We help each other out a lot,” Rio said. “In a chemistry class, I shared my notes with another mom who couldn’t make it to class because her daughter was sick. It’s nice to have a bond with other students in your same situation.”

Regarding the grant approval process, Sandy Groeninger, director of the Children’s Learning Centers, said, “As in 2013, the DoE this year looked at what we had to offer, and one of the things they liked was that we’ve been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1991.” The NAEYC accreditation process includes a lengthy self-study, involving staff and parent feedback as well as an onsite visit from the national association.

The experience of the CLC centers’ staff was also a big plus, Groeninger said, who with Carlotta Conley at the Lakeshore Campus center, have a combined 50-plus years of childcare experience. “We have three teachers here with 25 years of experience. You don’t find that in most childcare centers.”

For more information on the Children’s Learning Centers, visit or call Sandy Groeninger at (847) 543-2345.