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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?

CEW+ has always served as an advocate for student caregivers. Our founder, Jean Campbell, gave life to the Center’s mission to level the playing field for access to education, the pursuit of finding fulfilling employment, and the acknowledgment of our complex lives. Early on the Center began tackling barriers to student parent enrollment and that work actively continues today. The reality is the identity of a student caregiver at U-M has never been simple or easy. Historically the Center has stood the test of time because of our collaborative approach and a willingness to do the heavy lifting of initiating changes that caused ripple effects at U-M and beyond. Today we are focused on building our collaborative work with student parents to create more systems-level change, removing barriers for student parents on their path to graduation.

Progress Highlights

  1. An updated list of resources for student caregivers

  2. Development of Student Parent and Caregiver Study Rooms at Shapiro Library and CEW+

  3. Creation and growing adoption of a student caregiver syllabus statement:
    “If you are a pregnant, parenting student, or primarily responsible for providing care for a loved one or family member, and you are in need of any accommodations, please let the instructor know at your earliest convenience. You may also reach out to mcasp.org and CEW+ for resources and community support.”

  4. Three established groups focused on different types of advocacy for student caregivers: The Student Caregiver Excellent Committee, Student Parent Advisory Board, and Faculty & Staff Allies of Student Caregivers

CEW+ is partnered with our sponsored student organization MCaSP, which is the home to the cross-campus Student Caregiver Excellence Committee and facilitates the caregivers and student parents ally group. We are thankful for the members of the Michigan community who are working with us and looking forward to all we can accomplish.

If you would like to learn more about the resources available to student caregivers, click here. Please feel free to share this link with other faculty, staff, and students that can utilize this information.

If you have any questions, concerns, or comments please reach out to Jessica Pelton at jepelton@umich.edu.

History

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.

Cover of Students with Children Guide

Press

CEW+ Program Assistant Jessica Pelton Selected as Parent Advisor for the Aspen Institute

Ascend at the Aspen Institute announced that 11 new Parent Advisors have joined its Postsecondary Success for Parents initiative to help shape Ascend’s expanded agenda to improve higher education policy and practice for student parents. Parent Advisors, who are current or former student parents, will be leading voices in the growing movement to address the needs of the one in five college students in the U.S. raising children.  From New York City to North Dakota and beyond, the new cohort of 2023 Parent Advisors reflect the varied experiences and dreams of students raising children.

Student Parent and Caregiver Study Room opens in Shapiro Library

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.

Making Space for Caregivers

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.

“I feel like I am almost a burden”: Student parents face hardships with in-person, virtual pandemic accommodations

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.

Michigan Caregivers & Student Parents (MCaSP)

CEW+ News: Fall 2021

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.

Student parents face hardships with in-person, virtual pandemic accommodations

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.”

Student parents talk struggles of academia, work-life balance during the pandemic

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.’”

Promoting the Success of Students Who Are Parents

“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.”

Hidden Population: Undergraduate student parents advocate for more resources

“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.”

Op-Ed: Supporting parents during the COVID-19 pandemic

“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 (SCEC) 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.

Group Leads:
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
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, Student Caregiver Liaison, CEW+
Lyss Shumaker, Alumni, LSA
Amy Szczepanski, Work-Life Resource Center, Human Resources
Ida Faye Webster
, Director of Program Review, Rackham

Interested in becoming a member of SCEC?  Complete this form

Student Parent Advisory Board

The Student Parent Advisory Board is led by student parents across campus with support from CEW+. The SPAB is working to reduce and eliminate obstacles for student parents and caregivers.

Members of the Student Parent Advisory Board:
Nicole Fairchild Azevedo, Graduate Student, STAMPS
Jess Bautista
, Graduate Student, SOE
Sumeyra Emre, Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering
Patrick Gallagher, Undergraduate Student, LSA
Amber Kocina, Undergraduate Student, LSA
John Kopelman, Undergraduate Student
Julia Martinez-Hussein, Graduate Student, Public Health
Jessica Pelton, Student Caregiver Liaison, CEW+
Sam Toia, Undergraduate Student, LSA
Aissa Wandarama, Graduate Student, Public Policy

Interested in joining the SPAB?  Complete this form

Student Caregiver Faculty & Staff Allies

Faculty and Staff Allies drive change by providing guidance to students, faculty & staff in their unit about how to best support student caregivers.  Are you seeking guidance on how to support student caregivers or are you a student caregiver in need of support? Find an ally in your unit

The Allies group is comprised of:

  • Lecturers, Tenure track, Tenured Faculty, Clinical Faculty, Research Faculty, Post-docs
  • Staff
  • Members from all units

The goals of the Allies group are to:

  • Assist student parents as they navigate challenges and provide warm referrals to resources on campus.
  • Provide support to colleagues who may have questions about how to best support student parents.

Interested in becoming an ally?  Complete this form

Academic Coaching

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 sarahpr@umich.edu.