Southern Connecticut State University will soon be able to better meet the needs of student-parents, thanks to a recently awarded $637,625 grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant is intended to bolster the success and graduation rates of student-parents by funding various projects, including the creation of a family resource center – an on-campus location that would enable parents to have their children with them as they are studying.
The grant also would provide student-parents with referrals to child care centers in the vicinity. And it eventually would fund a drop-in childcare center, where care is provided while parents are on campus or nearby.
Principal investigators are Michele Vancour, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services; Katie De Oliveira, director of the Center for Academic Success and Accessibility Services; Kari Swanson, Associate Librarian, Acquisitions & Collection Development Coordinator, and Lauren Tucker, assistant professor of special education.
Vancour said the grant will enable SCSU to offer more services to student-parents.
“The precarious balancing act student-parents face likely involves working for pay; finding quality, affordable and reliable childcare; attending classes; collaborating with peers; and doing homework,” Vancour said.
“Even for the most successful jugglers, success is often out of their reach without support,” she added. “For our student parents, the COMPASS (Childcare Opportunities Mean Parents Achieve Success at Southern) project will provide infrastructure that will benefit student-parents who need childcare and related services to achieve their academic and family goals.”
Vancour said that nationally, 22 percent of college students are parents, and about half of them do not complete their degrees.
She said the COMPASS project is designed to reduce barriers to finding accessible, quality and reliable child care services; to minimize low-income student-parent’s debt during and after college; and to support their other needs toward a successful college experience at SCSU.
Ketia Similien, a parent who earned a bachelor of science degree from Southern last year in public health and is a current graduate student at the university, said she is excited to hear about the grant.
“This will be a game changer for student-parents such as myself as we don’t always get the resources we are looking for when it comes to juggling being a parent and pursing our education,” Similien said.
“As a mother of two children, I don’t really have a supportive circle to help me,” she added. “It can sometimes be a challenge trying to get assignments done or attend classes on campus. Childcare was an issue I faced numerous times and I wasn’t aware of any services that could help me within the area.
“Being a parent shouldn’t be a reason to stop people from pursing their educational dreams,” Similien said. “It’s awesome seeing this support being welcomed at Southern.”