Report on Resources and Support for
PREGNANT AND PARENTING STUDENTS
AT HIGHEST RISK OF DROPPING OUT
Attending California State Colleges and Universities
By FFL President Serrin M. Foster and Kellan Monroe
Feminists for Life of America reviewed 33 California state university websites to determine their available on-campus resources and support for pregnant and parenting students, including women’s health services, lactation rooms, child and infant care options, online/hybrid and full degree programs, and family housing options. Our survey revealed:
• 100% of state universities have women’s health services available on campus.
• 100% of all state universities have lactation rooms.
• 97% universities offer child care, usually including infant care (87.5%), but the space in these facilities is limited, the waitlists are long, and prices can be prohibitive: a child might remain on the waitlist for several months or longer, and price can range from $10 to $123 per day per child.
• 97% of state universities offer online/hybrid classes; 31% of undergraduate degrees are available through the state online program.
• 44% have family housing, but it can be pricey, ranging from $766 to $2,275 for a one-bedroom, to $1,849-$4,195 for a three-bedroom/two-bath. Family housing has waitlists, but the waitlist lengths are not published online.
• 39.4% of all universities explicitly include pregnancy and parenting rights in their Title IX statements.
Feminists for Life of America commends California for its progressiveness in providing child care, women’s health, and other resources for pregnant and parenting students.
However, child and infant care facilities and family houses have lengthy waitlists, demonstrating that demand exceeds the amount of resources available. We recommend expanding the amount of child and infant care to reduce waitpool time, expanding family housing options, and ensuring all pregnant and parenting students are aware of their rights and options by including it in Title IX Statements. We also recommend posting waitpool lengths online to be readily accessible to potential students, and for pregnant women to be able to register for child care and family housing before the child is born.
Furthermore, we urge colleges and universities to designate a central place on campus for pregnant and parenting students to inform students of resources and services, both on and off campus. Policies, resources, and support should be readily accessible on the school’s website.
FFL’s Recommendations for Best Practices to Serve Pregnant and Parenting Students may be helpful for administrators. Students and administrators are also invited to take FFL’s Pregnant and Parenting Resource SurveySM to help evaluate their campus.
Finally, while online classes and degrees are available, nontraditional student parents are at highest risk to drop out. To better meet student parents’ needs, the state should carefully consider the new fully online community college proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in his 2018 State of the State address.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the available resources for pregnant and parenting students at 33 California state universities and make recommendations for next steps to expand access, improve resources and support, and increase graduation rates for pregnant and parenting students.
Title IX protects students from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and protects students who need to take a leave of absence due to pregnancy. But according to a September 2017 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), only a minority of single mothers actually graduate. The number of single mothers in college more than doubled between 1999 and 2012 — coming to represent close to one in five of all women in college, or 11 percent of all undergraduates. The study cites financial obstacles that got in the way, the demands of working full or part time, the cost of child care (and continued elimination of on-campus day care), and lack of family housing as reasons single mothers do not graduate.
Women of color in college are especially likely to be single parents. Nearly two in five Black women (37 percent) and over one-quarter of American Indian/Alaska Native women (27 percent) are raising a child on their own while in college, and 14 percent of white women are single parents in college. Nearly one in five Hispanic and multiracial women students (19 percent and 17 percent, respectively) are single mothers, while Asian/Pacific Islander women are least likely to be raising children in college (7 percent), according to the IWPR.
Furthermore, MarketWatch reports for-profit colleges — which tend to leave students with higher debts — target single parent students. Single mothers comprise 26 percent of for-profit college students, MarketWatch finds.
Facing substantial amounts of student debt, single mothers in college must find affordable, convenient child care options. Many universities have cut their child care budgets, allocating funds to other amenities, according to Refinery29. The number of public four-year colleges with child care decreased 5 percent between 2005 and 2015, Refinery29 reports.
The need to find a path forward to support parents, especially single mothers, is obviously urgent. The latest report from IWPR is even more explicit in the urgency of who needs services now: Parents who are nontraditional older students. An IWPR briefing paper released on February 20, 2018 describes the “new college majority,” finding more than half (51 percent) of college students are now what used to be considered “nontraditional”—financially independent, over age 24, and with children (dependents) of their own, among other characteristics. They are most likely financially independent women (55 percent) and students of color (55 percent). Half are parents of young children. They are twice as likely than traditional students to be living in poverty. Two-thirds of them work on top of going to college, and most of them work more than 20 hours a week. They are also less likely to graduate.
Students who achieve their post-secondary degrees earn $17,500 more than those with a high school degree, GED, or no high school degree, according to a 2014 Pew Research study. Making college doable for single mothers is crucial to helping them avoid poverty and debt.
Feminists for Life of America’s Expertise
Feminists for Life of America’s report inventories resources and support for student parents attending California state universities and makes recommendations for a path forward to increase graduation rates.
In January 1997, Feminists for Life of America President Serrin Foster led the first-ever FFL Pregnancy Resource ForumSM at Georgetown University. Her moderator outline became the basis of the FFL Pregnancy and Parenting Resource Survey, later shared with other organizations and campuses across the country. Foster moderated similar Forums at UC-Berkeley, Pepperdine University, and University of San Diego on best practices to serve pregnant and parenting students.
In 2008, FFL published “Perception is Reality,” a nationwide study of students’ knowledge of the resources available to pregnant and parenting students on campus. With 165 respondents at 117 colleges and universities, public and private, the survey found:
• 78% had flexible class times, and 53% had online class options.
• Nearly 50% said they had no family housing on campus, and 31% did not know about family housing.
• 31% were aware of on-campus child care available.
• 77% did not know if student health services covered maternity/prenatal care.
• 77% reported no lactation rooms on campus.
• 50% did not know if their schools had an office specifically for pregnant and parenting students.
• 69% did not know if their state provided financial aid for pregnant/parenting students.
FFL inspired model legislation in support of pregnant and parenting students in Michigan in 2004. A federal version of that bill, titled the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act, passed the U.S. House in 2007 with wide bipartisan support as the Hart Amendment. And in 2010, the Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act inspired the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, federal grants distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to states and tribes for the purposes of health care, housing, child care, and flexible scheduling, such as online classes.
Using FFL’s Pregnancy Resource Survey, the researcher ascertained the available resources by reviewing the websites of 33 California state universities:
|California Polytechnic Pomona||California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo|
The study compares available pregnancy and parenting resources, including lactation rooms, child and infant care — and costs thereof — statements on pregnancy and parenting rights, lactation rooms, on-campus family housing, online course options, policies on maternity leave, and other information necessary for students with children. It calculates percentages of universities who offer child/infant care, etc.
We also reviewed each institution’s policies and the information available to expecting students, student parents, and birthmothers.
Of universities that offer child care, 87.5 percent offer infant care to infants under 1 year old. The exceptions are California Polytechnic (both campuses), CSU Monterey Bay, and CSU Sonoma. The minimum age is typically between 4 and 6 months.
With few exceptions, California universities offer on-campus child care — usually including infant care.
California higher education institutions have acknowledged the need for expanded child and family resources. A 2017 study from CSU Humboldt found six out of seven children eligible for child care (1.2 million) do not receive it. CSU Channel Islands’ 2010 survey identified a great need for child care services.
The following schools (97 percent of CA universities) offer on-campus child care for young children (non-infants):
|California Polytechnic Pomona||CSU San Francisco|
(CSU Maritime is the only UC school with a campus that does not offer any child care.)
Applicants for child or infant care are placed on waitlists while the universities determine the amount of space available and the student’s financial need. The length of time to be waitlisted is not immediately apparent on any websites.
California offers financial aid for child care to students in need, and many universities give low-income students priority on the waitlist for child care. Some schools may offer tuition scholarships as well.
On Campus Child Care by Institution of Higher Education
Avg Daily Costs at each UC/CSU school range from $10 at UC Davis to $123 at UC-SF
(Note: This graph does not include CSU Maritime, which does not offer child care on campus.)
Resources for and Laws to Protect Nursing Mothers
The state of California is progressive in its protections for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace and educational facilities, and all universities have at least one available lactation room. Some offer additional support programs. California law requires employers to provide lactation rooms for female workers. California laws also state, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.” So a mother may nurse her child in any location on campus.
40 percent of California universities explicitly mention on-campus housing as an option for students with children. They are the following:
|CSU Northridge||UC Irvine|
At San Diego State and CSU San Jose, the accommodations are not directly on campus. UC Davis only offers this housing option for graduate students. Rent varies widely from $766 to $2,275 for a one-bedroom to $1,849-$4,195 for a three-bedroom/two-bath.
Online Class Options
Online courses are an option at all schools, though many universities limit the number of fully online degrees available.
Although on-campus living for students with families is limited, the following universities offer some sort of online/hybrid options for students who live out of commuting distance and cannot live on campus:
|California Polytechnic Pomona||CSU San Francisco|
Courses exist for undergraduate degree, graduate degree, and/or certificate/career training programs — and extended learning and open university programs allow students to take classes part time without fully enrolling in the university.
Cal State Online offers 31 fully online bachelor’s, 79 fully online master’s, and one fully online doctorate program to all CSU students. It also offers 36 hybrid bachelor’s, 38 hybrid master’s, and one hybrid doctorate program to CSU students.
Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a new online community college in his 2018 State of the State address January 25, which could provide flexibility, affordable cost, and quality of education that serves students, including student parents, to help ensure they can graduate.
Pregnancy and Parenting and Title IX
Bound by Title IX regulations, and in order to make education more accessible, universities have made moves to provide resources for students with children — including lactation rooms, women’s health services, and information about their rights.
The following universities (39.4 percent of California universities) include pregnancy and parenting information in their Title IX statements:
|CSU Bakersfield||CSU San Diego|
The remaining CSU and UC campuses do not include this information; however, federal law still prohibits them from discriminating on the basis of pregnancy
Additionally, all campuses are required to have a Title IX coordinator and provide information and assistance for students who have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy.
Universities with additional Women’s Resource Centers on campus include:
|California Polytechnic Pomona||CSU San Francisco|
The CSU and UC systems, because of Title IX regulations, treat pregnancy leave as any other medical condition; therefore any absences due to pregnancy must be excused. At Berkeley, students may take a parental leave of absence for up to two semesters after birth.
All California state universities include women’s health services as part of student health services. They offer different services, including pregnancy testing, prenatal care, referrals to local OB-GYNs, and/or pregnancy or parenting counseling, covered by student health fees. Because of HIPAA laws, results of all pregnancy tests, STD tests, etc. are confidential. Reports are not shared with parents on insurance claims.
In addition, the counseling services at CSU Fresno offer programs for parents.
All California state universities have financial aid offices, but needy families can also apply for Federal programs such as TANF, WIC, food stamps (SNAP), etc.
To be considered a “subsidized family” for the State child care program, the total monthly gross income must not exceed $4,030 for one or two people, $4,340 for three people, $4,877 for four people, $5,657 for five people, or $6,438 people.
Completing one’s education is imperative to end the feminization of poverty. After analyzing the available resources and support, Feminists for Life of America makes these recommendations to address the lack of graduation among single women. We use information revealed by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, by our more than two decades of work on campus to facilitate resources, and by listening to pregnant women, expectant fathers, parents and birthmothers:
Include support for pregnant and parenting students and birthmothers in online Title IX statements, orientation, and related communications.
Establish a central place on campus for serving parents.
Expand affordable and accessible child care: California state colleges and universities have established child care, but expanding the amount of space available to care for more children could help, along with additional scholarships and loans. Making waitlist lengths (and estimated times) available online may also help students consider which school may best meet their needs, especially for infant care.
Expand affordable family housing: Parents attending California schools need more affordable family housing options on campus. Waitlist lengths/times published online may help women trying to pick a school.
Expand telecommuting options: Expanding telecommuting options could better accommodate parents, reduce costs for students and the schools, and result in higher graduation rates.
We encourage administrators to read “FFL Recommendations for Best Practices at Colleges and Universities Serving Pregnant and Parenting Students” as they create a blueprint for progress. Students and administrators are also invited to take FFL’s Pregnant and Parenting Resource Survey to help assess the resources available on and off campus and work collaboratively with administrators as they advocate for better support.
We invite students and faculty to www.womendeservebetter.com.
Administrators and student leaders/activists are invited to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance, including information about hosting an FFL Pregnancy Resource Forum.