Pregnancy Assistance Fund

Major Victory for Pregnant and Parenting Students

It’s been years in the making, and we are thrilled to announce:

FFL’s Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act is the core of a new law that will provide new grants this fall through the PREGNANCY ASSISTANCE FUND.

Feminists for Life celebrates the establishment of the Pregnancy Assistance Funds for Pregnant and Parenting Students. The first federal grants of their kind — inspired by Feminists for Life’s work on college campuses to develop resources for this underserved population — will be distributed this fall to establish, operate, or maintain pregnant and parenting student services.

FFL President Serrin M. Foster said, “This is what we have been working towards. Pregnancy and parenting should never terminate an education. No woman, no parent, should be forced to choose between her education and career or her child, a child that needs the very support education can help to provide. Pregnant and parenting students deserve better. That includes birthmothers — and student dads like mine. They deserve equal access to opportunities in higher education. And society deserves to benefit from the unique contributions that their education will allow them to make.”

Feminists for Life urges state governments to apply for the grants which range from $500,000 to $2 million dollars for up to three years. FFL is offering assistance to state offices as they prepare their applications. As the creator of the program, FFL will subsequently offer direct assistance to universities and colleges who are awarded the matching funds to implement the program.

Student groups who want to prepare a groundswell of support for this initiative at their schools should contact coordinator@feministsforlife.org now!

HISTORY

This groundbreaking victory has been years in the making — 17 years, in fact. Imagine:

Seventeen years after starting FFL’s College Outreach Program,

Sixteen years after our ad campaign brought attention to the lack of services for pregnant students,

Fifteen years after launching kits to 650 colleges’ health centers to give women the “rest of the choices,”

Fourteen years after moderating FFL’s first Pregnancy Resource ForumSM,

Eleven years after proposing model legislation in Michigan,

Six years after Michigan’s Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act was signed into law,

Five years after our Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act was introduced in Congress,

Three years after FFL initiated the first Rally for ResourcesSM petition and pregnancy fair on campus to support pregnant women and parents,

Three years after FFL released a groundbreaking nationwide study documenting college students’ lack of knowledge about school pregnancy and parenting policies and where to go for help,

The same year FFL developed our amazingly popular “Raising Kids on a Shoestring” resource guide,

Our vision of on-campus resource centers for pregnant and parenting students can finally become reality through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund!

FFL first began helping universities assess the unmet needs of pregnant and parenting students when Serrin Foster moderated the nation’s first-ever FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum in 1997 at Georgetown University. Georgetown committed to annual Forums and, within a few years, established parenting-friendly policies, a central place on campus to go for help (health services), support for birthmothers, improved communications, and vital resources like childcare and family housing adjacent to campus. Ever since, FFL has moderated similar Forums at top schools across the country — and every year, Georgetown has expanded their services, creating a “safety net” program to ensure no student falls through the cracks.

Feminists for Life’s College Outreach Program — in particular FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums — inspired Michigan’s 1999 Pregnant Student Services Act, which offered an incentive to schools to provide pregnant and parenting students a single location on campus where they can acquire information about resources and support. The bill was overwhelmingly supported by Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate and was signed by Michigan’s pro-choice governor in 2004.

FFL then worked to introduce the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act (2005, 2007) to provide grants to colleges and universities across the United States for annual pregnancy and parenting resource forums and a central office to coordinate, promote, and develop resources and support on- and off-campus. In 2006, FFL held the first-ever Capitol Hill briefing on the needs of 4.5 million parenting students, as well as millions of students who become pregnant and need resources and support for marital and single parenting choices and various adoption options.

In 2008, FFL revealed results from our 2007 national survey of resources and support, “Perception Is Reality.” The study clearly showed a widespread perceived lack of basic resources. Often, help was either unavailable or not well-communicated, leading pregnant and parenting students to feel unwelcome and unsupported. “The study confirmed everything we feared to be true — and makes the case for these grants,” Foster added.

After learning firsthand about the lack of services for pregnant students, FFL’s former intern (now FFL College Outreach Program Coordinator) Chaunie Brusie held the first FFL Rally for Resources and pregnancy resource fair in 2007. Soon after, FFL launched a national petition campaign as part of the Rally kit.

Feminists for Life’s pioneering efforts became the basis for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund. States who are awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will — for the first time — distribute funds to eligible institutions of higher education, which will match a portion of the funds received, to conduct a needs assessment on campus and within the local community and set goals for improving access to resources for parenting students.

NEW GRANTS BUILD ON FFL’S WORK: MORE CAMPUSES, MORE WOMEN, MORE PARENTS AND CHILDREN SERVED!

University and college grant recipients will set goals and annually assess their performance in meeting the needs of pregnant and parenting students regarding health care, housing, child care, and flexible scheduling (such as telecommuting programs) and finding sources of practical assistance, such as maternity and baby clothing, food (including formula), furniture, and more.

The schools will also be required to identify public and private service providers, located on the campus of eligible institutions and/or in the local community, that are qualified to meet these goals and establish programs with these qualified providers. As appropriate, they will provide referrals for prenatal care and delivery, infant or foster care, or adoption, to a student who requests such information.

The office shall make referrals only to those service providers that serve parents, prospective parents awaiting adoption, women who are pregnant and plan on parenting or placing the child for adoption, and parenting or prospective parenting couples.

Schools awarded matching grants through the state grant will also provide education to improve parenting skills for mothers and fathers.

SIMILAR GRANTS WILL HELP PREGNANT TEENS — AND ALSO WORK TO PROTECT PREGNANT WOMEN FROM VIOLENCE

A new program very similar to the one FFL proposed for college students will serve high school-age teens!

States may use Pregnancy Assistance Funds, in the manner described above for institutions of higher education, to support pregnant and parenting teenagers through qualifying high schools and community service centers. Qualifying schools and centers will not need to match funds used to help teens.

Pregnant women subjected to domestic violence, sex assault, or stalking may also be aided with Pregnancy Assistance Funds.

As the only pro-life group active in the coalition to pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1995, and the only feminist organization to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (a.k.a. Laci and Conner’s Law), Feminists for Life welcomes this measure that focuses on the needs of pregnant women.

“We refuse to choose between these efforts,” Foster said. “Oftentimes, these issues overlap. This program can offer real help for the most vulnerable with long-lasting benefits for all. Assessing the needs and establishing a blueprint for progress at a Pregnancy Resource Forum is the essential first step for meaningful change.”

States will have until August 2nd to compete for the first wave of grants to focus on the college initiative, help for pregnant and parenting teens, and help for pregnant victims of violence. The total budget is $35 million for each year from 2010 until 2019. Feminists for Life is ready to help state offices and schools.

THANKS TO SUPPORTERS & MEMBERS — WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SERVING PARENTS AND PREGNANT WOMEN AND WORKING WITH ADMINISTRATORS AND STUDENT ACTIVISTS ON MORE CAMPUSES!

FFL’s Board of Directors thanks all the visionary members and strategic supporters who have gotten us this far. “We are proud to be a catalyst for change,” Foster added. “As the creator of the Pregnancy Resource Forum, we have 17 years of experience successfully working in a collegial environment with administrators and students across political aisles and ideological boundaries. We stand ready to help the states apply for grants, and university administrators implement policies and communication systems and determine which services are best offered on their individual campus.”

Help Feminists for Life take the next great step to systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion. While we listen to the needs of women, help us answer the call.

Please, fuel our work!