Supporting the Academic Excellence of Student Caregivers
Student caregivers are some of the most focused and resourceful students on campus, as demonstrated by their ability to balance school, work, and parental responsibilities. Did you know that 26% of all college students nationwide are raising children?
- Between 2002 and 2007, CEW led the Committee on Student Parent Issues and its successor, the Student Parent Policy Committee. These university-wide committees worked to address several key barriers to success experienced by UM students with children. Through these committees, CEW contributed to the following outcomes:
- Developing an estimate of the percentage of students with children (approximately 20%) based on two surveys of all UM graduate and professional students, as well as undergraduates whose FAFSA forms indicated they had a dependent.
- Creating the Students with Children website which now directly links to CEW+
- Developing the UM Campus Child Care Homes Network of state-licensed, home-based childcare providers
- Recommending more part-time enrollment options for UM graduate and professional students who must work to support their families.
- Supporting the creation of a policy for paid parental leave for graduate student parents.
- Expanding the number of UM bathrooms with diaper changing tables and “personal rooms” for lactation.
Student Caregiver Resources
CEW+ Guide: "Helping Students with Children Graduate: Taking Your College Services to the Next Level"
Under the Michigan Partners Project grant, CEW+, lead by former CEW+ staff member Beth Sullivan, created the guide “Helping Students with Children Graduate: Taking Your College Services to the Next Level“ to help Michigan colleges build and improve their support programs for student parents. The report outlines unique challenges faced by these students and links readers to model programs in the areas of academic & social support, child care, financial support, housing, and health care. It also identifies and links to sources of state, federal, and non-profit assistance.
The Shapiro Undergraduate Library opened the Student Parent and Caregiver Study Room on March 11 to provide a space for members of the Michigan Caregivers and Student Parents (MCaSP) group to study in comfort with their children.
Pelton, who’s president of the Student Parent Advisory Board, decided to find a solution for herself and other students in her position. Working with her colleagues at CEW+, where she is a student parent program assistant, and the U-M Library, she helped create a dedicated study space in the Shapiro Library for student parents and caregivers. It’s a space where Pelton and others can go without worrying that they’ll draw unwanted attention or disrupt the work of others.
The Michigan Daily spoke to student parents regarding their experience after the first month of in-person classes. Each student said they had to weigh many factors — like the age and number of their children and their access to family support — when deciding how to proceed this fall.
- City officials, parents discuss decrease of child care options in Ann Arbor at town hall
Michigan Caregivers and Student Parents (MCaSP) sat down with elected officials and child care providers on Friday evening to discuss the state of child care in Washtenaw County. The panel discussed how the pandemic affected and revealed disparities in the availability of child care and the need for increased federal and state funding.
- 5 key issues facing child care in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County
A cross section of child care workers and advocates from Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan were joined by elected leaders from the city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County and the state Friday, Oct. 29, at the Michigan Union to brainstorm ways to promote higher wages for child care workers and how to better support child care providers in the area. The event was hosted by Michigan Caregivers and Student Parents.
In this issue, we highlight our current work to advocate for student caregivers and share the voices of U-M student caregivers past and present. You will read about students excelling at Michigan while raising children or caring for their aging parents. You meet the members of our Student Parent Excellence Committee (page 10) and learn how we can all work to ensure an inclusive definition of caregiving (page 18). We are proud to work side by side with administrators, staff members and faculty who want to lift up these student stories to create greater change and help U-M live into our promise of the “uncommon education” for all.
Tiffany Marra, director of Center for the Education of Women+, said she empathizes with the extra struggles that student parents face this fall. “A lot of the accommodations that were provided while campus was closed are starting to be retracted,” Marra said. “It is complicated for students and staff with children younger than age 12. There are shortages at childcare centers because of lack of workers because of low pay. Title IX protects pregnant students and they can have accommodations. The same rights don’t extend to student parents, unfortunately. Some schools recognize student parents under Title IX (but) we haven’t gotten there at U-M.”
To address the issue of work-life balance with children during the pandemic, Micol said she would urge the departments and faculty to reach out to their non-traditional students with children and ask how they can help. “I think for non-traditional students, it’s a real struggle in academia to feel like you belong,” Micol said. “And I feel like the pandemic has made it so we’re kind of sitting silently in our anguish, and it’s like proof they don’t want us here, and that’s really hard. But just asking, even if there’s nothing that they can do, feels like, ‘I want you here and I want to figure out how I can help you.’”
“Having a more balanced perspective about the diversity of students in the classroom can lead to greater inclusion, especially when those insights lead to changes in pedagogy that validate unique life experiences. Students will often hide their identity as parents for fear of being perceived as less committed to their coursework by the instructor or peers. In reality, student parents are some of the most focused and resourceful students on campus, as demonstrated by their ability to balance school, work, and parental responsibilities. In many cases, student parents also commute to campus so they can live near affordable childcare.”
“Nationally, student parents make up a significant population of college students, representing more than 1 in every 5 undergraduates. About 70 percent of those student parents are mothers. Of the 3.8 million undergraduate student parents in the country, approximately 17 percent attend public, 4-year universities like the University of Michigan.”
“Student parents comprise a largely invisible population at the University of Michigan, despite hundreds of us being enrolled in undergraduate, professional and graduate programs. When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the closure of childcare centers and K-12 schools, we were left to our own devices to figure out how to complete coursework, teach remotely, conduct research and make progress on our dissertations while simultaneously caring for and educating our own children. With no access to childcare, our academic progress has taken a serious hit. Here are our stories.”
Student Caregiver Excellence Committee
The Student Caregiver Excellence Committee is led by CEW+ in collaboration with partners across campus. We are working to reduce or eliminate obstacles for student parents and caregivers demonstrating excellence. If you’re interested in becoming an ally, click here.
Barbara Anderson, Ronald Freedman Collegiate Professor, Sociology and Population Studies
Paul Artale, Program Manager-Graduate Student Engagement, Rackham
Nicole Banks, Dean of Students Office, Student Life
Beth Dutridge-Corp, LSA Dean’s Office
Tu’Rone Elliott, Medical School, Academic Counselor, Medical School
Kelley Emerson, Assistant Director, Science Learning Center
Kerrigan Fitzpatrick, Alumni, LSA
Allyson Flaster, ICPSR. Institute for Social Research
Reginald Hammond, Program Manager, Medical School
Paula Hathaway, Manager of Graduate Education, LSA
Melissa Lee, Student Support, Michigan Engineering
Tom Lehker, Ombuds, Student Life
Stephanie Leiser, Lecturer, Ford School of Public Publicy
Tiffany Marra, Director, CEW+
Alice Mishkin, Graduate Student, LSA
Jeanne Murabito, Director, Office of Student Affairs, Michigan Engineering
Doreen Murasky, Special Projects Manager, CEW+
Analidis Ochoa, Graduate Student, SSW
Jessica Pelton, Undergraduate Student, LSA
Lyss Shumaker, Alumni, LSA
Jeff Spencer, Graduate Student, Chemistry and Education
Amy Szczepanski, Work-Life Resource Center, Human Resources
Ida Faye Webster, Director of Program Review, Rackham
Student Caregiver Faculty & Staff Allies:
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Are you an undergraduate or graduate student with caregiver responsibilities (e.g. student parents or those who provide eldercare) looking for additional academic support? If so, consider participating in the Academic Coaching Pilot Program which offers one-on-one academic coaching and peer-led community activities. We will be launching our next iteration of the Academic Coaching Program during the 2022-2023 school year. If would like us to contact you once the application opens, please contact Sarah Prince at email@example.com.