College students who are also parents, experience high rates of basic needs insecurity, including food and housing insecurity and homelessness, decreasing their chances of completing their degrees according to a February 2022 brief from The Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. These insecurities disproportionately affect single parents and Asian, Latino and Black parents, especially Black fathers.
To alleviate these hardships, a number of government and local nonprofit programs and opportunities are available for student parents.
The Hope Center surveyed 32,560 student parents nationwide and discovered that 90 percent of Black women, 86 percent of Black men, 86 percent of Latino women, 85 percent of Latino men and 64 percent of white student parents face basic needs insecurity.
Ali Caccavella, a senior learning specialist at The Hope Center said it is important to increase awareness of the data, but also the struggles that student parents face to make change.
Tyra Hickman, a junior accounting major and single mother, faces challenges while balancing academics and care for her 13-month-old child.
“Now since I have my son, I have to live where we currently live, where I was born, in the Poconos and I have to commute Tuesdays and Thursdays to class,” Hickman said. “It’s definitely hard to be a student and then you have to find time to study.”
UNIVERSITY AND GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE
The Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools Program, from the United States government, assists low-income student parents by making child care services available on college campuses, according to the Department of Education.
The U.S. Department of Education funds Temple University’s Temple-Student Parent Partnership, according to TSPP. The partnership funds daycare for undergraduate students’ infants, toddlers and preschoolers, according to their website.
Student parents can receive assistance when applying for daycare subsidies from the federal government and have access to parenting workshops, networking opportunities with other student parents and resources at Temple and in Philadelphia, according to their website.
The U.S. Department of Education funds CCAMPIS through a grant to the university if the total amount of Federal Pell grants funds given to students exceeds $350,000, according to its website.
Temple received $195,966 and the Community College of Philadelphia received $375,000 from CCAMPIS, according to the 2019 Department of Education report.
Joseph Yusuf, a 2019 Howard University media, journalism and film alumnus and single father, wants to see more representation of and for Black fathers on college campuses and an increase in resources for them. Yusuf would also like more opportunities to network with other student parents, he said.
“I would have loved to have partnered with other student parents or someone who experienced what it was like to be a student parent,” Yusuf said.
The Young Fathers United Program, from the Institute for the Development of African American Youth, assists student fathers to improve interactions with their children. They also host meetings twice a week at their headquarters on 2305 North Broad Street — Mondays for fathers between 26 and 40 and Tuesdays for fathers between 14 and 25, said Eben Muhammad, coordinator for the Young Fathers United Program.
The program also focuses on improving fathers’ academic performance, understanding of child care and discipline, and providing a support network for young fathers, according to the Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development.
Young Fathers United gives fathers a $30 incentive for coming to weekly meetings, and provides free diapers, clothing, haircuts and other necessities and helps pay phone bills, Muhammad said.
“There’s a lot of programs for mothers, but there’s not a lot of programs for young Black men that just need help and build strength, honor, integrity and all of that together and pushing back to be able to reflect everything that you learned and teach your child, and also just to have a bond with other Black men,” Muhammad said.
LOCAL NONPROFIT ASSISTANCE
Wonderspring, a nonprofit organization that provides early childhood education and before and after-school programs, offers resources for infants, toddlers, preschool and school age children, and kindergarten enrichment and summer camp in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, according to their website.
To alleviate financial stress, child care subsidies like the Pennsylvania Child Care Works Program, Early Head Start, Pre-K Counts and PHLpreK are all accepted at Wonderspring, said Zakiyyah Boone, interim chief executive officer for Wonderspring. The Harwood Scholarship can also be used as financial assistance to pay for the Wonderspring program, she added.
The Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia provides financial assistance for private or church-based schooling to under-resourced families in Philadelphia. The application can be found here.
The Early Learning Resource Center provides a subsidized child care program that assists low-income families by providing funding to help pay for child care costs. Eligible families can apply here.