Colleges are not the only organizations that serve students who are parents, and higher education policy is not the only public policy domain influencing their wellbeing. In fact, parenting students and their families exist at the intersection of a range of support institutions and related policy issues. These various sectors may help or hinder student parent success in education. Because of the different systems and policies at play, there are likely multiple ways to help them achieve degrees while supporting family needs.
In partnership with the Urban Institute, WCW’s Higher Education Access for Parenting Students Research Initiative is developing a policy roadmap to support the needs of parenting students. The project consists of several components, including 1) the creation of a family-based framework that identifies promising research and practice, 2) the establishment of a cross-sectoral leadership council to inform this body of work, and 3) the development of a roadmap for how further research or changes in policy or practice would help parenting students meet their educational goals.
The project will offer access to information and research products on a new webpage at urban.org, as well as 25 informational fact sheets explaining policy areas and issues that impact parenting students.
As part of this project, a leadership council of 42 well-respected experts from across a broad spectrum of policy areas and roles related to issues impacting parenting students convened for the first round of meetings in fall 2021. The council discussed a range of current critical issues impacting parenting students and considerations regarding policies that support or impede their success. The council is continuing to meet to deepen conversations, give feedback on fact sheets pertaining to relevant policy areas, and inform the development of a road map for policy adjustments and reforms, systems change, and new research in support of parenting students.