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More than one in five undergraduate students in the U.S. are parents or caregivers of dependent children, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research and Ascend at the 2019 Aspen Institute. Generation Hope also reports that 75% of parenting students are unaware that their financial aid could be increased to account for childcare costs. Additionally, the report highlighted more than 60% of students miss class due to a lack of childcare. On average, student parents earn higher grade point averages, yet their college degree outcomes are significantly worse: 52% of student parents dropout within six years of enrolling, compared with 32% of non-parent.

In 2017, Drs. Bradecich, Roy, and Dayne conducted an online survey of 786 pregnant and parenting students at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). Of the survey participants, 54% of the students identified as Latino/Hispanic and 75% identified as women. Survey participants described negative experiences concerning a lack of empathy from faculty members. Student participants also suggested developing training for staff and faculty regarding the needs of student-parents. Furthermore, participants called for the development of support groups for student-parents on campus, and it was clear there was an unfamiliarity with or lack of campus resources in place for student-parents.

Financial burdens, time constraints, and lack of support are just a few of the barriers that parenting students face. The CSULB Pregnant and Parenting Students Initiative is committed to the academic and personal success of pregnant and parenting students. Resources include but are not limited to: advocacy and accommodations through Title IX, a family-friendly study area, CalWORKs verification assistance, lactation rooms and changing stations, and on and off campus referrals. Removing barriers for Pregnant and Parenting students means not only the success of the individual student but also the success of the family unit. The potential impact is exponential as the success of a pregnant or parenting student has a greater impact on our community and future generations.

Through a Michelson Spark Grant, 20MM is partnering with the CSULB to further the impact their Pregnant and Parenting Students Initiative has had. CSULB will conduct a landscape analysis of all CSU campuses and a selected number of community colleges. The analysis will create a baseline for the improvement of services for pregnant and parenting students across the CSU system and beyond, it will also help increase system-wide support by sharing best practices, lessons learned, and other findings that help support efforts to create inclusive programming and services. These efforts will result in the development of a best practice model for family-friendly campuses. CSULB will then work with the CSU Chancellor’s office to help disseminate the training material to all CSU campuses as part of the California State University (CSU) Basic Needs Initiative. When complete, this work has the potential to transform all schools in the CSU system into family-friendly campuses.

To learn more about the Student Basic Needs crisis, we invite you to visit our YouTube channel, which features a webinar with the nation’s leading experts on the subject. 

Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Learn more at www.20mm.org.