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Grants Boost Pool Of Inland Area Child-Care Workers

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Qualified child-care providers and child development students are eligible for reduced tuition and other financial assistance through UCR Extension’s Early Childhood and Family Studies program.

Grants totaling $1.3 million from First 5 San Bernardino provide financial assistance for students living and working in San Bernardino County through the SBC-CONNECTIONS AND SBC-CARES programs.

Riverside County residents receive similar assistance from REFLECTIONS, funded by First 5 Riverside County and the Riverside County Child Care Consortium.

The grants provide support for students whether they are enrolled in courses at UCR Extension or at a local community college. However, courses through UCR Extension are offered in Spanish providing a unique opportunity for Spanish speaking residents to take advantage of the programs.

Margi Wild, director of child development grants for UCR Extension, said the grants are designed to boost the number of qualified child-care workers in the Inland area and to encourage those already working in the field to expand their knowledge and expertise. San Bernardino and Riverside counties rank among the lowest of California counties in terms of percentage of licensed child-care slots for children of working parents, according to the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

The SBC-CONNECTIONS grant offers $465,080 in tuition and textbook assistance, stipends, educational materials, training, mentoring and college credit for child development students and those pursuing child development permits. Students must live or work in San Bernardino County to be eligible.

The SBC-CARES grant provides $864,437 for stipends, mentoring and professional training to licensed child care providers and those who are exempt from licensing because they are family members or friends caring for children from one other family. Students must live and work in San Bernardino County.

Wild said students who meet certain criteria can qualify for a career incentive award, similar to an annual bonus, through the CARES program. Education and career support is provided throughout the year along with the annual bonus. Child care center workers receive $800 to $1,600 at the end of the year, depending upon the permit, degree and number of college units completed. Wild said about 9,000 individuals have received assistance through the two programs since October 2002. The $115,000 REFLECTIONS grant helps Riverside County residents earn permits that qualify them to teach in child development centers.

The grant covers tuition, textbooks, instructor costs and program materials for 575 courses annually, and 368 students have accessed these classes through UCR Extension, Wild said.

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