The LAVC Family Resource Center (FRC) provides support services to student-parents and their young children, trains the early care and education workforce, and serves Los Angeles Valley College and the surrounding community as an Infant & Toddler Lab Site. Los Angeles Valley College serves close to 20,000 full and part-time students.
Image of LAVC FRC Director Marni Roosevelt greeting a student parent family. Source: Los Angeles Valley College
Lucy is a Los Angeles Valley student whose challenging background made her very similar to many of our students. Lucy very nearly did not graduate from high school. During her junior year, she had to take time off to care for her mother who became ill. Despite this setback, Lucy returned to high school to graduate, only to become pregnant shortly before graduation. Even with the struggles she faced at home, Lucy came to Los Angeles Valley College in Valley Glen, CA, to pursue her postsecondary education. We first met her when she found the Family Resource Center via a word-of-mouth recommendation for our free baby clothes program. She, her baby, and her mother are now regular participants at our playgroups. In the 2Gen environment of the FRC, Lucy takes advantage of our academic advisement, parenting workshops, and other support services, while her daughter benefits from facilitated play sessions with her mother, grandmother, and other families. Lucy is currently attending a series of workshops to help her learn how to budget, as well as completing a job-training program. We’re so thrilled to celebrate Lucy’s success and that she sees the FRC as an important support system.
The most obvious thing we have learned from Lucy and other student parents is that family comes first. However, the roles of student and parent are inseparable. Lucy’s story is one of so many that we hear on our college campus on a regular basis, reflecting the ways students’ personal lives affect their academic performance and even their ability to stay in school. Although nearly 30 percent of community college students have young children at home, we were surprised to learn that many of our student parents felt isolated and had many challenges that remain unaddressed. And when we really took the time to listen to what our student parents were telling us, it became clear that they needed their own campus-based support focused on academic supports and family resources.
As we developed our student-parent support programs and witnessed their benefits, we came to understand the importance of looking at all of our LAVC students in this holistic manner. It is crucial to understand that everyone has a personal story that affects their academic and career trajectory. No two students are the same, and no two students will have the exact same needs. This was the beginning of the realization that our approach to empowering student parents had farther reaching application on our campus.
Through our involvement with Ascend at the Aspen Institute, we felt that the next obvious group to focus on should be the parents with young children who come to LAVC through our Workforce Training Department program. Without the proper support, these workforce training students face a similar set of struggles as our other student parents, such as lack of child care and academic support. This can seriously impede their success in completing training and transition back into the workforce. Our partnership with the LAVC Workforce Training Department is a natural expansion of the 2Gen framework we’ve developed at the Family Resource Center, and we’re excited to be working together.