Happy OU Project
We are very pleased to announce that our Happy OU Project team received a grant of nearly 3 million dollars ($2,998,016 for 4 years) from the U.S. Department of Education to support our project entitled “OU Child Care Access Means Parents in School Program for Students’ Success”. This is an exciting opportunity for OU low-income student parents! We are not creating average on campus child care services--we dream big pursuing the best early childhood program that one can possibly imagine as a model university laboratory school. It includes well-trained, well-paid, and respected teachers, care for well-being of children, teachers, and families, beautiful and ergonomic work and learning environments, nature-based outdoor environments, Reggio-Inspired curriculum and culturally responsive practice, a place for building a sense of community, and well-equipped site for research, innovative practice, and cross-disciplinary collaboration!
This proposal was developed by a team from the Jeanine Rainbolt College of Education at OU in partnership with the Institute of Child Development (ICD) at OU, other OU organizations, and community partners. As a part of the Happy OU Project Team led by Kyong-Ah Kwon (PI), the Cable Endowed Chair and Associate Professor; and including Dr. Courtney Dewhirst, Assistant Professor (Co-PI); Dr. Brittany Hott, Associate Professor and Associate Director of ICAST (Co-PI); Dr. Erin Casey, Associate Professor (Co-I), Dr. Diane Horm, GKFF Endowed Chair, Director of the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI), and Associate Director of ICAST (Co-I); and Ms. Becca Waggoner, Director of the ICD at OU.
This project will provide OU low-income students with access to high quality, campus-based child care and wrap-around services (e.g., additional financial aid to cover educational costs, transportation costs, mental health services, tutoring, and academic support, peer support groups, parenting workshops and support, free food and baby supplies).
One of the project's major goals is to add two infant toddler classrooms in the OU ICD and provide a significant reduction in cost to parents who are students to enroll their child in a high-quality early childhood program. Through establishing a support system with various campus and community partners, we expect that this project will help OU low-income students complete their schoolwork and successfully prepare for a career, reduce financial and parenting stress, promote child and family well-being, and improve the rate of students’ retention and completion of a degree at OU.
We believe this program will offer great opportunity and support for the success of OU students and the OU community. We would like to solicit more support and investment in our endeavor so that we can continue and extend this program to the OU community and beyond.
We want to express our sincere gratitude to the ICD and their families, various OU organizations (e.g., Student Financial Center, Food Pantry, TRIO program), and community partners (e.g., Center for Children and Families, Norman Public Library) for their wonderful partnership and support for this project. We appreciate OU students who completed the needs assessment survey for the project.
We would also like to acknowledge several OU internal investments that supported the development of this team and proposal including additional research support for Endowed Chairs, and support from the Departments, the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, ORS, Research Financial Services, and ICAST.
We look forward to launching this program and collaborating with you all!
Our Team Members