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KNOXVILLE — Students who are receiving federal Pell grants to attend the University of Tennessee-Knoxville may soon qualify for help with their child care needs.

The College of Human Ecology will receive $255,000 over four years to expand its Child Development Laboratory to serve the children of low-income students, said Dr. Jan Allen, associate professor of child and family studies.

“For a large number of students, finding affordable, accessible and high quality child care can sometimes be a barrier to their enrollment or their continuation in higher education,” said Allen.

“This past fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Education made funds available to campuses across the United States to help low-income students find and pay for affordable child care.”

Vice President Al Gore announced that $4.9 million will go to 87 colleges and universities that awarded more than $350,000 in Pell grants for 1998.

The Child Development Laboratory, accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs, is staffed by full-time teachers and undergraduate and graduate students in child development. It now serves 99 children at three UT locations.

The grant rose out of efforts by the UT Building and Enriching Stronger Tennessee Families program to provide a branch of the Child Development Laboratory downtown, which is part of a federal Empowerment Zone, said Dr. Lane Morris, associate professor of child and family studies.

In the 1998 fiscal year more than 3,700 UT-Knoxville students qualified for Pell grants and 516 of them had children.