Supporting student parents

GVL / Emily Frye
Anthony Christian

GVL / Emily Frye Anthony Christian

Taylor Fussman

Juggling all the responsibilities thrust upon college students is hard. Juggling all that while also parenting? Now, that’s nearly impossible.

At Grand Valley State University, student parents have the opportunity to earn an education while their children do the same with the help of GVSU’s Children’s Enrichment Center (CEC).

The year-round CEC preschool program serves children from 2.5 years to 5 years of age.

The CEC consists of three classrooms. Preschool 1, 2 and 3 each have a full-time lead teacher with a bachelor’s degree in education or an education-related field.

Preschool 1 serves children of 2.5 to 3 years old and focuses on self-help and personal skills such as dressing themselves and brushing their teeth.

Preschool 2 serves the 3 to 4-year-old age group. This level focuses on topics such as the recognition of letter names, sounds, shapes, colors and so forth. This age group also learns about how to have positive social relationships.

The final level, Preschool 3, serves 4 to 5-year-old children.

“The main goal of Preschool 3 is to get the kids ready for kindergarten,” said Sarah Lord, program administrator and Preschool 1 lead teacher.

The CEC offers both full-time and part-time enrollment options.

Upon enrollment there is a $50 nonrefundable fee as well as a refundable deposit of $150.

“There are many resources we can direct the students to for financial help if the enrollment is not affordable,” Lord said.

The CEC also works with the GVSU community and the surrounding communities in various ways. The staff is involved with a Family Fun Night event in the spring and plans on scheduling an event to serve breakfast to the children at the Children’s Center of the DeVos Hospital in Grand Rapids.

“We are currently in the works of developing a collaboration with the exercise science department and having their students come over to the center or we go to them at the Rec Center,” Lord said. “The students will be teaching our students how to do different dances and exercises.”

In addition to this, the CEC staff will be volunteering to babysit children during the homecoming 5K run.

Overall, the CEC offers a number of programs to student parents at GVSU.

Daphnea Sutherland is a Preschool 2 lead teacher and a former student parent at GVSU.

“When I was a student parent I was beyond impressed with the care provided to my daughter,” Sutherland said. “The center offers more than a normal preschool because it can make use of the campus and events offered.”

Sutherland said her daughter was like “a little Laker” when she was involved with the CEC program as a parent.

“The center is a great opportunity for us to provide for students while they are learning,” Lord said. “They are able to educate their kids while they are getting an education too.”

The CEC is located on the GVSU Allendale Campus next to the soccer fields and offers a support system many student parents can take advantage of.

For more information about the CEC and its programs, call the office at (616) 331-5437, email program administrator Sarah Lord at [email protected] or visit