Parent Update

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spotlight on Access and Success Program by Shelly Bjick, LSW, Program Specialist, Access and Success

St. Kate's Access & Success, a program for Katies with Kids
National data indicates that almost one-fourth of students pursuing an undergraduate degree are actively parenting. The students at St. Kate's mirror this national trend. Students who are parenting face many additional barriers to completing their education, such as lack of financial resources, child care, and time. Because of these additional obstacles, fewer than 2 percent of mothers who had children before age 18 complete college by the age of 30. For those who are 20 or 21 when they have children, the numbers improve only slightly to 9 percent. This is where St. Kate's student parents separate from the national trend; they do complete their degrees! In fact, the average, one-year retention rate for all new student parents (79%) exceeds that of the general student population (76%)*.

It is clear that St. Kate's cares about its student parents. Nineteen years ago, the College of St. Catherine developed an innovative program, Access and Success, to support students who are parenting. Access and Success began on the Minneapolis campus for single mothers pursuing their Associate degree. Since then the program has evolved to include traditional day students, weekend college students, and graduate students; regardless of marital status, financial situation, or age of children.

Access and Success for Katie's with kids offers a wide range of services to help ease the additional stress parents experience when trying to complete their degree. Offices on both campuses are staffed by licensed social workers. Staff provide one-on-one support, advocacy, as well as referrals to resources on- and off-campus. The goal of Access and Success is to create a support network for student parents, through relationships with staff, mentor matching with volunteers, and connections among student parent peers. Connections are fostered through on-going free lunches for student parents to network with each other or to hear speakers. In addition, Access and Success offers opportunities for students to bring their families to campus for fun activities like a Trick or Treat evening, a holiday party, and a family fun night carnival.

Both campuses offer a child-friendly study space where students can work on the computer or meet with student groups while watching their child play in the adjacent playroom. In addition, each campus has a lactation room with quiet, private space that includes an electric breast pump and a refrigerator to store milk. Student can also borrow a laptop for up to one week to complete papers and assignments.

Access and Success is a unique and supportive program offering an innovative blend of practical support, peer connections, and fun. Check out the Access and Success website for more information.

National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (March 2010). Why It Matters: Teen Pregnancy, Poverty, and Income Disparity.
*Access & Success Annual Report 2010-11

1 comment:

  1. There are many schools who don't have programs to support this growing group of students. St. Catherine students (parents) are very lucky to have a program that is supportive and helpful in many ways!