The Student-Parent Initiative investigates the social conditions and policy supports that will positively impact student-parents (or students in secondary and postsecondary education who are also parenting as they pursue their degrees). In particular the initiative proposes to foster dialogue and research from a multi-disciplinary perspective that:
- Documents conditions that inhibit or promote the successful matriculation of student-parents
- Provides access to survey measures and a future database of secondary data documenting student-parents’ experiences in higher education
- Informs policies and practices that will lead to more student-parents’ successful matriculation
- Studies the impact of the student-parent experience including a multi-generational approach as it examines the experiences of student-parents’ children
- Formulates innovative interventions particularly as it addresses student-parents seeking education as a pathway out of poverty
The Student-Parent project started at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign when a group of graduate students approached a university associated organization, I-Parents, to share concerns about their experiences as student-parents. The resulting advocacy effort and related housing symposium included a campus-wide survey, and subsequent White Paper with 7 recommendations. Recommendations included additional supports for child care, financial capability, housing, social supports and friendly academic policies, and innovative programs to support student-parents attempting to pursue education as a pathway out of poverty. Another key concern was the impact of the student-parent experience on their children, spouses or partners.
The Student-Parent Initiative builds upon these recommendations and is developing a forum to engage in wider discussion, innovation, and research. The aim is to develop a larger body of work that recognizes the unique situation of student-parents within the educational environment and society and informs research as well as local, state, and federal policy and program development.