While AB 2881 has clear mandates for educational institutions, the implementation of the law may be a powerful opportunity to move beyond basic compliance and into best practice. Such practices would more strongly support the retention and advancement of parenting students while also bolstering compliance with the core legal requirements. Below find ideas for leveraging the new law to provide stronger supports for student parents.
|Basic Compliance||Best Practice|
|At a minimum, colleges and universities following the law must provide priority registration for student parents who have children under the age of 18 who receive more than half of their support from the student.||Consider that student parents who do not meet the baseline definition provided by the law may still need additional support to be both a student and a parent; this includes students with dependent children over the age of 18 or children who are reliant on the student for less than half of their financial support. Your campus can use a more expansive definition of ‘student parents’ than the minimum expressed in the law so that more student parents are able to access priority registration and other support. An institution’s priority registration webpage can direct student parents who aren’t covered by AB 2881 to reach out to a designated contact at the registrar’s office for assistance getting the courses they need in light of their time demands.|
|Student parents access priority registration at the same time as other students receiving early registration access (e.g. veterans, unhoused students, athletes, etc.). There is nothing in the law that states that student parents would be in a different ‘tier’ of priority registration.||Consider that student parents may need more flexibility than other students, especially in accredited programs with tightly-structured courses. In addition to priority registration, ensuring student parents have their scheduling needs met may also take additional meeting time and counseling appointments.|
|Priority registration allows student parents to register early for courses that have already been scheduled. There is nothing in the law that states that campuses must consider student parents’ needs before or while scheduling their courses.||While priority registration is helpful for ensuring student parents can access courses already on the calendar, it does not resolve problems when courses are scheduled during times that are challenging for student parents to attend class. For example, student parents are often unable to take courses around the time when they must pick up their child from school. Consider evaluating course offerings to ensure a variety of timings are available, and regularly seek feedback from student parents about the timing of courses.|
|Identifying Student Parents & Data Collection|
|Under the law, institutions can choose how they identify student parents (using the FAFSA, CADAA, or other documentation).||Consider using a ‘layered’ approach. FAFSA data is helpful, but not all students use FAFSA and its numbers on student parents are often an undercount. You may consider creating and sharing a survey or simple form for students to complete upon enrollment and have access to update regularly. It may capture information such as: how many dependents, ages, whether the student provides the majority of support for their child, and the student’s educational goals. You may also think about creating a way for students to update their parenting status easily without having to be chased down, such as integrating this question into campus apps or information portals. Note that the new Title IX regulations (expected to be formally enacted in May 2023) require faculty and staff to inform pregnant students of the availability of services from the Title IX staff. This is a prime opportunity to connect students who plan to become parents with resources. Learn more about the new rules here.|
|Under the law, institutions are not required to use the data about student parents beyond providing priority registration.||Consider using the data about student parents to inform your services for the student body. Sharing the number of student parents with student services staff, the student parent resource center, campus and local childcare services, student housing, and others will ensure staff are prepared to meet student parents’ needs. Campuses can also use this data to track the advancement and retention of student parents over time. Institutions should also consider sharing resources (such as the student parent webpage) with student parents as soon as they self-identify.|
|Student Parent Webpage|
|The student parent webpage must include information about the priority registration system, as well as information about CalFresh, the California Earned Income Tax Credit, the Young Child Tax Credit, and the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). It should also share all on- and off-campus supports and services which may be of use to student parents. To comply with the law, be certain to include any point of contact for each program (name, phone, email), a description of the program, and eligibility restrictions, if any.||Consider including information on additional programs/supports, if available. For examples of helpful supports for student parents, check out our website sample language! Be sure to include a contact of the person who manages the webpage. This ensures that student parents and support providers can easily share updated information when available. You may also want to survey student parents to hear from them about what supports are most relevant and useful! If you’re interested in survey support, contact us.|
StudentParentJoy.org will be updated with California examples as more institutions create their student parent webpages.