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Program to support single parents seeks input at JCTC’s open house

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By Jeff Moore

Family Scholar House will be on hand during Thursday’s Jefferson Community and Technical College’s open house in Carrollton explaining assistance available for local students advancing their education.

The program, based in Louisville, will participate in the March 19 open house to hear directly from local students as Family Scholar House looks to begin a program here this summer.

Single parents who are taking classes or those hoping to, will have the opportunity to meet with Family Scholar House officials at the open house to explain areas of support needed in getting a college degree, the program’s executive director Cathe Dykstra said.

“We don’t have specific goals for our families,” Dykstra said during a presentation to the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce March 10 at General Butler State Resort Park. “Our goal is to help them meet their goals for themselves.”

During the open house from 5-7 p.m., Dykstra said Family Scholar House officials will be “looking at how we can support single parents in your community.”

In its program at Louisville, she told local business leaders that they offer residential facilities for students, in addition to economic advisement, case management, transportation assistance, child care and even a toddler book club with the local library to teach children to learn to love to read “laying the foundation for lifelong learning.”

Since its inception in 1994, students receiving support through the programs have earned 25 college degrees, Dykstra said. She added that 100 percent of those served by Family Scholar House are now in stable housing, 75 percent have stable jobs and 53 percent have continued their education after leaving the program, often in pursuit of graduate studies.

JCTC’s Carrollton campus director Susan Carlisle said the idea to get in touch with Family Scholar House grew out of a meeting she had several months ago with JCTC President Tony Newberry where the two were looking at ways to pick up additional services for students here.

 Carlisle said that Dykstra met with the community partners, as well as Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson, Carroll County Community Development Corp. and the Chamber board, to get “the lay of the land” to find out the economic and social obstacles that are facing students here.

“And what we heard is that you are already very collaborative,” Dykstra said of the community partners meeting. “But we also heard the same things that our founders heard when they did a feasibility study in our community — that there was a gap. That there should be a way for us to bring some services to support the single parent families  trying to get a college degree.”

Dykstra said the Family Scholar House will begin a pilot program at JCTC’s Carrollton campus this summer.

Carlisle said she hopes the program will be in place by June 1 with two Family Scholar House employees located here to act as liaisons with the program on services local students need.

 “We provide an educated workforce so businesses looking to grow, or to relocate or to be here have people that they can use to fill those jobs,” Dykstra told the chamber gathering. In Louisville, she said Family Scholar House works with employers such as UPS and Norton Healthcare to assist students in gaining employment.

In fact, in the Louisville program, she said about 70 percent of students who are part of her program go into the healthcare field. “You can’t out-source bedside care,” she noted.

“Nursing is a growth industry not just in Louisville but around the country and around the globe,” Dykstra said.

While she expects that healthcare may also be at the top here, she said the program will support students with anything JCTC offers.

Carlisle pointed to Family Scholar House’s motto of “Changing lives, families and communities through education,” saying she “loves that line.” She said JCTC wants to be a partner in this

The end goal, Carlisle said, is to secure the land and possibly develop a program with Family Scholars House to offer housing for students. This program also offers child care, which could then provide an additional service for the staff and employees of JCTC.

Open house

Carlisle invites students and their parents to attend Thursday’s open house from 5-7 p.m. at the JCTC Carrollton campus to learn more about the college, located at 324 Main St.

During the event, participants can tour classrooms, learn about program offerings, meet faculty, meet with financial aid representatives and learn about dual credit — where students earn college and high school credits at the same time.

Representatives from Campbellsville University, the University of Louisville and Spencerian College will be on hand to meet with students and their families.