Advancing Student Parent Success in California: Recent Progress and Future Plans


As Mother’s and Father’s Day holidays approach, we’re reminded of the vital role that caregivers play in supporting their families and communities. At California Competes, we understand that students with dependents face unique challenges as they strive to balance their academic pursuits with their care responsibilities. We also recognize that addressing these challenges is vital for the success of our state. That’s why we’ve been focused on advancing policies to bolster the academic and career achievements of the 3.9 million Californians with dependents who completed high school but don’t yet have a college degree. 

We’re thrilled to celebrate recent progress in this area, including the enactment of AB 2881 (Berman), the policy that expands access to critical resources and priority registration for student parents. It also lays the foundation for strengthened data collection on this student population to inform future policymaking and implementation. This law marks a major milestone in our efforts to support student parents across California, and we’re grateful to our partners assisting in its implementation.

Given the strides made in the past year, we’ve updated our student parent policy agenda to refine the priority areas that can further improve outcomes for this population. Our agenda includes specific recommendations for how postsecondary institutions and policymakers can better support students with dependents, from expanding child care options to providing flexible pathways to and through college and onto quality jobs.

We’re also excited to continue the momentum and launch a collaborative effort with EdTrust—West to drive systems change for the student parent population. Stay tuned for more details on this exciting partnership as we work together to accelerate progress for student parents across California.

As we celebrate these positive changes and continue to galvanize community action, we’re reminded of the resilience and determination of student parents. Their role in driving California’s communities and economy is paramount, and we’re committed to transforming our higher education and workforce systems to serve them every step of the way.

Related Research & Resources
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As California’s public higher education system shifts to better address the needs of today’s college students, who are often juggling work and academic obligations, the segments must not overlook the growing number of student parents—which must also include pregnant students, students on parental leave, and others with dependent care responsibilities.
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Increasing the education level of student parents is vital to California’s future workforce and will enable parents to provide a living wage for their families. This blog series explores what is currently known about student parent participation and success at California’s higher education institutions and examines institutional, state, and federal policies and actions that can support student enrollment and success.
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