Most college students are now “nontraditional” and 27 percent of community college students have children. To make dramatic increases in the number of students with postsecondary credentials, which the president has identified as a crucial step in strengthening the U.S. economy, we must make supports such as child care available to student parents. Recent IWPR research shows that community colleges have only 1 child care slot for every ten students who need services.
IWPR’s recently launched project, the Student Parent Success Initiative, focused on supporting students with dependent children who are pursuing college education. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project gives IWPR the opportunity to initiate new research and foster communication and collaboration among advocates, policymakers, and practitioners invested in the success of student parents in postsecondary education.
The project’s primary goals are to:
- Raise awareness and educate institutional leaders and policy makers on the need for and importance of student parent supports to achieve the goal of increasing postsecondary participation and graduation rates within the United States;
- Improve public policies and resources that encourage and provide support for low-income parents to achieve postsecondary credentials; and,
- Increase knowledge-sharing about how to replicate and expand successful support programs that assist low-income parents to achieve postsecondary credentials.
IWPR’s role is to serve as a nexus for information by:
- Networking and informing policy makers and advocates by organizing convenings facilitating online networking, and engaging policymakers and thought leaders to inform public policies;
- Conducting and commissioning research on resources and supports that help student parents succeed in postsecondary education; and,
- Informing practice and inspiring investment by creating toolkits, trainings, and other materials for wide distribution.