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For many parents, getting a GED isn't possible without child care. This was true for 30-year-old Tina Markle, who just obtained her GED in February thanks to a partnership between the York County Literacy Council and the Community Progress Council.

The partnership brought free child care to GED classes held at the Community Progress Council (CPC) building at 226 E. College Ave. The CPC provided the care while the instructor and the materials for the classes were provided by the literacy council, said Bobbi Anne DeLeo, executive director for the literacy council.

The child care program was first offered during the 16-week-long GED preparation class in the fall and has been extended to the current session. Robin Rohrbaugh, the president and CEO of CPC, said she and DeLeo haven't yet discussed doing another session but will talk about it soon. DeLeo said the literacy council is hoping to partner again.

Two mothers obtained their GED from the first session, which might not seem like much, but Rohrbaugh said that any time even one parent can better themselves, they're making a difference.

"Education is so important to helping folks have the tools they need to get out of poverty," she said. "People who get their GED have greater earning power."

DeLeo said the literacy council has seen an increase in interest from CPC clients because of the partnership, and Rohrbaugh said more people are participating in the current 16-week session than the first one. The child care component is key to CPC clients who don't have access to child care or who don't have money to pay for extra child care after work.

Helping parents: Markle learned about the program through a flier her daughter received at Head Start, York County's preschool services offered through CPC. As the mother of four, she said the child care offered by the CPC was one of the major factors behind her decision.

"That program is wonderful. It really is," Markle said. "I don't think anyone understands how big of an impact child care is for a lot of mothers."

While the child care was a major support that allowed Markle to get her GED, she also said that the program teachers are patient and don't move on to another subject until students are absolutely ready. Markle is now working toward a nursing career. She hopes to take certified nursing assistant classes and ultimately become a registered nurse.

"I'm doing things that I couldn't have done without my GED," she said.

More than care: Rohrbaugh explained the program stands out from other child care services because the CPC staff working directly with the kids have taken steps to ensure the children are learning, not just being baby-sat. That was another aspect of the program that Markle really enjoyed.

"I love how the child care was involved, and I love how when we were learning my kids were learning as well," she said.

Because a diverse group of ages attend the child care program, the children typically craft or have play-based learning rather than a formal lesson.

The classes are offered three evenings a week, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., so the children always get a snack, and sometimes dinner is cooked for them as well. They do a family dinner night once a week, too, Rohrbaugh said.

The CPC checks in with parents who attend the first few classes but drop out. Doing so helps the agency learn how to better support those interested.

"If one adult gets their GED and increases their earning potential and uses less public services, the cost-benefit is there," she said.

Those interested in taking GED preparation courses through the York County Literacy Council are encouraged to call (717) 845-8719.

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