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Investment in resources that improve the experience of students who are parents will improve the college experience for all students. With intentional engagement, college campuses can become a locus of community for “traditional” and “nontraditional” students alike.
A lack of financial resources has long been cited as a barrier to furthering and completing postsecondary education for all students. For students who are parents, however, awareness of and access to financial supports could mean the difference between stopping school to work or continuing their studies.
Addressing mental health and trauma is a persistent concern for students who are parents. While more research is needed to understand the specific mental health needs of students who are parents, it is clear that mental health challenges—including depression and anxiety—can be a barrier to both academic and parental success.
Although the population of students or workforce participants who are parents remains steady, the common narrative of the “traditional” student continues to persist, excluding this group and resulting in a stigma around students with children. Creating more inclusive student-serving strategies, such as networking and sharing of narratives, reduces this stigma and promotes overall inclusion on campus.
Parents who want to improve their economic opportunity through education often encounter scheduling conflicts, child care challenges, and other major obstacles that high-quality, non-degree programs can help them overcome. Access to more flexible pathways creates opportunities for parents to develop the skills needed to participate in the workforce and obtain economic security while recognizing and respecting their role as parents.
This report from the Aspen Family Prosperity Innovation Community shares: principles and solutions that can advance the economic success and well-being of children and families; highlights insights and solutions coming out of Family Prosperity; and shares innovative approaches being used by employers and implemented through local, state, and federal policy.