MN Student Parent Support Initiative: Advancing Health and Higher Education for Student Parents

>>TOI CAGE: The Student Parent Center is our ground.
We’re staying in a good place mentally and also physically. This is a safe haven.>>PAULINA: When I had my baby, they were really supportive and they are helping me
finish my career goals.>>TINA: Really, I got so much help from this program here and I just love it. And I wish, every school should have this. [intro music]>>ELIZABETH GARDNER: The primary goal is that pregnant and parenting teens and young adults who are enrolled in a college or university have
the chance to complete their education and meet their educational goals.>>SUE FUST: One of the biggest, or the most important, things for students to be successful is a feeling of belongingness. We try to facilitate that at our Student Parent Center by, you know, just giving them that space and a place to meet each other.>>TINA: Sometimes, you know, as parents we feel a little bit uncomfortable. We’re walking
with other students here knowing they’re just, you know, teenagers. They don’t have
kids. I didn’t have a circle. I live here pretty much with my two boys. Parent
Center has become a bigger circle for me.>>PAULINA: Having the help of the Parent Center,
it’s a huge relief for us as parents and as a couple.>>ELIZABETH GARDNER: With that little bit of
support, they’re more likely to be engaged and stay connected to that
environment and then re-enroll. Re-enrollment is really important because it’s typically the number one indicator that will tell us how well that student
is doing. And over a three-year period, during three academic years, we were able to track that somewhere between 70 to 90 percent of the program participants re-enrolled for their classes the following year.>>TOI CAGE: Being a young parent, the Student
Parent Center makes a big difference because when you are starting out you
have not many resources being a young adult and you’re trying to complete an
education and do better for yourself. Here’s a place that you could get your
diapers and not be ashamed. You could maybe grab a thermometer for the baby
because you just can’t afford it at the time.>>TINA: I was taking five subjects, five
classes, and then with my two kids. I mean, at the time I didn’t know what to do. I
didn’t have much of a help so I brought my little one with me and I was studying.
So, an old member of the program was actually staying with that
little one. I just felt like I’m going to do this because I do have help and I have
support.>>SUE FUST: We really like to have the art students bring their children to our campus. And the two generation approach is, you know, just to maybe not only help our students get their degrees but also encourage their children to want to go to college as well.>>ELIZABETH GARDNER: It’s been a wonderful opportunity to think about the collaboration that can occur between local community or technical colleges
or a local university and a state agency such as the health department.
The colleges and universities have really taken off with this program.
They’re interested in graduating students. We’re interested in graduating
students as well.>>TINA: What this program is really doing to me is preparing me, not just as a nurse but also a very good parent to be. [closing music]

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