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Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Students


Policy Brief

March 2023 Events

Fill Out Our Survey


What does it mean to be a pregnant or parenting university student in Illinois? Heading link

What are the social, economic, and learning conditions that shape the experiences of these students?

What do educational institutions need to do differently to become supportive spaces where pregnant and parenting students can expect to thrive?

These are only some of the questions that advocates and researchers have asked to try to identify solutions to the many issues that parenting students experience on their educational journey.

UIC’s Women’s Leadership and Resource Center has decided that, not only did we want to learn about the answers that others came up with, we also wanted to share that information with you.



Because student parents at UIC are, like at so many other institutions, a silent and invisible population. Silent because they may not believe they will be listened to. Invisible because the university hardly acknowledges them. National estimates say that one in five college students is a parent. We need to hear their voices and take seriously what they have to say.

Because when we understand the larger societal context (racial, gender, and economic inequities) and institutional contexts (urban public university with a majority of students from historically marginalized communities) in which parenting students are doing academic studies, we can think more clearly and concretely about what needs to be done to help them, and who should be involved in making the necessary changes.

Because, as a university community, we generally believe that research and knowledge production are not only important but must also be put to use in order to be meaningful. This brief and resource guide is the first step towards putting this knowledge into practice.

We urge you to read, reflect, and to join with us in helping to make UIC a place where pregnant and parenting students feel welcome, experience support and belonging, and can realize their full academic potential. We welcome your feedback at

Pregnant and Parenting Students: A Policy Brief Heading link

The title words are

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Education, approximately 4.3 million of 19.5 million undergraduate students enrolled 2015-2016 in higher education are parents. Nearly one million of these students are estimated to be single parents. The campus’s recognition and support of student parents fosters their path towards degree attainment. Addressing the structural barriers to academic success and degree completion for student parents is part of that support. In a study conducted by the Jed Foundation, scholars of all family structures reported heightened stress levels and a sense of being overwhelmed, yet student parents were more likely to also have greater financial strains and lack of time availability for household management1.

Social determinants of health are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks 2. While the types of needs among parenting students vary, affordable childcare, food security, and mental healthcare are frequently highlighted by surveyed students and in peer-reviewed articles 3.

This policy brief seeks to 1) Bring awareness to social determinants of health that disproportionately affect student parents in Illinois; 2) offer recommendations to university administration for increasing support of student parents on campus; and 3) increase the university community’s awareness of and engagement with parenting scholars and their needs.

In 2019, 54.7% of students enrolled in postsecondary schools in the U.S. are women and 45.7% of degree-seeking students are non-white 45. In Illinois, an estimated 22 percent of all undergraduates, or 145,882 students, are parents 6. Challenges facing student parents are compounded by inequities such as race, ethnicity, class, and/or gender. An estimated eight percent of single mothers earn a degree within six years of enrollment, compared to forty-nine percent of non-parenting  7. Research shows that Asian, Black, and Latinx parenting students face higher rates of basic needs insecurity (food and housing access) than peer parenting students 8.

Learn more Heading link

March 2023 Events Heading link

Fill Out Our Survey Heading link

What do you need as a pregnant or parenting student? We invite you to to tell us through this brief anonymous survey so we can share the info with UIC administration, staff, and faculty. Please share your feedback!

Resources Heading link

Below, find our compiled list of resources to support UIC pregnant and parenting students around greater Chicago and beyond. If you would like to suggest additional resources, please email us.

Generation Hope – Pregnant Girl, by Nicole Lynn Lewis

Along with her own story as a young Black mother, Nicole Lynn Lewis weaves in those of the men and women she’s worked with to share a new perspective on how poverty, classism, and systemic racism impact teen pregnancy and on how effective programs and equitable policies can help teen parents earn college degrees, have increased opportunity, and create a legacy of educational and career achievements in their families.

Chicago Abortion Fund

The mission of the Chicago Abortion Fund is to advance reproductive autonomy and justice for everyone by providing financial, logistical, and emotional support to people seeking abortion services and by building collective power and fostering partnerships for political and cultural change. We envision a world where everyone has the freedom and autonomy to create lives, families, and communities that are healthy, safe, and thriving and where the full range of reproductive choices, including abortion, are accessible and affirmed.

Chicago Birthworks Collective

At the heart of Chicago Birthworks Collective is their passion to empower Black families through an amazing pregnancy journey. Their collective of trained doulas and birth workers offer support and education through excellent care and luxury services. Whether it’s your first child or your fifth, they are here to help you navigate the healthcare system, teach you how to advocate for your rights, and curate a birth experience that celebrates your growing family.

Chicago Volunteer Doulas

A Chicago Volunteer Doula is a labor support professional who has chosen to commit time and energy to helping pregnant people and their families in Chicago. Our doulas come from a variety of backgrounds. They are social workers, childcare workers, cab drivers, accountants, stay-at-home moms, midwifery students, artists, activists, nurses, lawyers, teachers, yoga instructors, and massage therapists. Their doulas celebrate different cultural backgrounds, and some are fluent in Spanish.

Chicago Women’s Health Center

CWHC facilitates the empowerment of women, trans people, and young people by providing access to health care and health education in a respectful environment where people pay what they can afford.

IL Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)

The Illinois Department of Human Services’ (IDHS) Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency are working together to support families to get the information and resources the need to find and select the best child care for their child.

Early/ HeadStart

Head Start programs deliver services to children age birth to 5 and their families in core areas of early learning, health, and family well-being. The Head Start program serves about 1 million children and pregnant women in urban, suburban, and rural communities throughout America. Head Start services are provided in centers, family child care homes, or in the family’s own home.. Find local, high-quality early childhood education services in the Chicagoland area

Melanated Midwives

Melanated Midwives mission is to diversify the midwifery profession and empower Black birth parents with resources and tools to successfully navigate their prenatal and postpartum care. Melanated Midwives is actively engaged in addressing the maternity health care desert and Black Maternal mortality and morbidity rates on the Southside of Chicago by bringing together Black mothers, pregnant people, politicians, public health workers and community activists.

National Women’s Law Center. Fact Sheet: Pregnant and Parenting Students’ Rights: FAQs for College and Graduate Students

For young parents, parenthood isn’t the end of the road. It’s essential that pregnant and parenting students not only have equal access to education, but also receive support to help them succeed in school.

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide.

The Aspen Institute’s “1 in 5” podcast vividly profiles students who are parents pursuing their education while raising a family and working.

The Lilac Tree

Our Mission: Helping individuals navigate and overcome the challenges of separation and divorce by providing access to legal information, support networks and professional resources. Our Vision: All people can confidently navigate the process of family breakdown, separation and divorce.

UIC Childcare Center

The UIC Children’s Center provides high quality early childhood education and childcare to preschool aged children of current UIC students, faculty, and staff in an on campus location.

Additionally, the Children’s Center provides opportunities for classroom experiences for University students in early childhood education and other related professions that support young children and their families.

Chicagoland WIC Grocery Program

WIC Grocery is Chicagoland’s one stop shop for healthy and nutritious WIC-approved goods. Recently redesigned, each of WIC Grocery’s 16 locations offers a wide variety of name-brand, nutritious and 100% WIC-approved foods. Starting in 2020, all WIC Grocery locations began accepting the Illinois WIC EBT card to ensure easy and convenient benefit redemption. All WIC Grocery locations are operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Change in Financial Situation Appeal Process

If a student, their parent, or their spouse (if married), experiences a change in their finances, the financial aid may be recalculated through a process called Change of Financial Situation Appeal.

Emergency funding at UIC – Dean of Students Page

The U and I Care Fund provides temporary, short-term financial assistance to currently enrolled students who are unable to meet essential expenses due to a temporary or unexpected hardship. This emergency funding program is designed to offer financial assistance to students in the form of one-time awards (typically not exceeding $1000). Emergency funding is NOT intended to provide ongoing relief for recurring expenses. Decisions regarding disbursement of funds are made on a case-by-case basis.

Graduate College Funding.

Graduate students who experience an acute and unexpected short-term hardship may to apply for an emergency grant. Acute and unexpected hardships may include burial costs, fire damage, or auto repairs due to accident. This program is being administered by the Graduate College in accordance with applicable University rules and policies. Funding for the Emergency Grant program comes from the Student-to-Student fee that is assessed to graduate students in Fall and Spring Semesters.

Office of Scholarships (UIC)

The Office of Scholarships assists current UIC undergraduate and professional school students with understanding and navigating the campus scholarship process and external opportunities. We do not award scholarships, and our services are available to current UIC undergraduates and professional students only.

Scholarships For Your Non-Traditional Situation

Many any non-traditional, or returning, students can feel left out of the scholarship equation. However, there are many scholarships and grants dedicated to helping the non-traditional student achieve his or her educational goals. These scholarships are funded by a variety of sources, including corporations, professional associations and colleges and universities. Non-traditional students, and returning students looking to finish an interrupted education, can find many lucrative scholarship opportunities specifically designed for their situation.

The Atlanta Divorce Law Group

It is our mission to get rid of the stigma of divorce so people can make a real decision for their family’s future that does not come from a place of guilt and shame. The Atlanta Divorce Law Group is proud to hold The Divorce Stigma Scholarship, for another year, to hear students share their experience with divorce and how it differed from the negative stigma that surrounds divorce today.

Commuter Campus Center – UIC

As the Commuter and Off-Campus Life (COCL) team, we strive to provide a sense of belonging among commuter and off-campus students while offering programs and services to enhance wellness, academic success, and student engagement at UIC. We work to educate our campus on understanding the commuter student experience and how to best support the 85% of UIC of off-campus students who travel to campus daily. Whether you commute from home or live in an off-campus apartment –we are here to assist you.

Illinois Legal Aid Online – Child Guardianship

Usually, only a parent of a child has the authority to make decisions about the care of a child. Sometimes, a parent cannot or will not make care decisions for their child. Legal guardianship lets someone that is not a parent make care decisions for a child, just as a parent would.

Illinois Housing Development Authority

This site is intended to help guide Illinoisans in need of emergency housing assistance due to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Discover the emergency assistance programs available to you by multiple state agencies including: the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Illinois Legal Aid Online – Navigating food assistance programs

You can use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy food. The money comes from the federal government, but it is run by the Illinois Department of Human Services Every month, your SNAP benefits are automatically put on a LINK card. Your LINK card can be used to buy food at approved locations. There are different rules if there is an elderly or disabled member of your household.

Illinois Legal Aid Online – Breastfeeding: What are my rights?

Provides information on breastfeeding rights, including workplace, school, courts, and other expenses.

Illinois Legal Aid Online – Parental Responsibilities

The term “custody” is no longer used in the law. It is now called “parental responsibilities.” This includes parenting time (formerly “visitation”) and decision-making power. Their resources explain these issues

Insurance Reimbursement for Lactation Expenses.

Website includes information about student lactation rights and spaces in Chicago

SNAP/TANF/Insurance Pre-Screening tool

SNAP gives a monthly dollar amount on a preloaded Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to buy food for you or your family. A predetermined amount will be loaded onto your EBT card based on your household income. Learn more about EBT cards on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository

Provides resources for mobile and local food pantries, as well as supplementing children and school-based programming. They also offer job training for under and unemployed adults.

The Night Ministry

Offers services for pregnant/parenting people ages 14-21. Their program includes Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP)

UIC Legal Services

Student Legal Services (SLS) is available to assist current UIC students in understanding and solving their legal problems. SLS can provide confidential legal advice, counsel and limited representation for currently enrolled students.

UIC Modified Teaching Duties for Faculty Members with Life-Changing Events

The purpose of this policy is to address the situation involved when a faculty member is responsible for semester-long teaching responsibilities and at the same time encounters any of the following events: 1) a new child enters the home; 2) a spouse/partner, child, sibling, or parent is diagnosed as having a terminal illness and requires intensive life-saving treatment or is in the end stages of the illness; 3) death of a spouse/partner, child, sibling, or parent. This policy enables the primary caregiver (or co-equal primary caregivers) to spend more time with the relevant family member(s). This policy reflects UIC commitment to creating a family/life -friendly work environment.

UIC Office for Access and Equity – Title IX Services

The Office for Access and Equity (OAE), strives to increase access to employment, programs, and services in an environment free of unlawful discrimination and harassment.

UIC Parking resources for third trimester pregnant persons

UIC Parking Services has developed a new program which provides convenient parking spaces for expectant mothers. This Program applies to any UIC faculty, staff member, or student who is in the third trimester of her pregnancy. The UIC faculty, staff member, or student must already have a parking permit from Parking Services.

UIC Wellness Guide

Resources on campus, including food pantry, lactation spaces, child services, discounted programs, student parent rights

WIC Screening Tool

WIC does not provide a dollar amount to buy food items. Through WIC, you can get nutrition education, breastfeeding support and referrals, and nutritious foods based on your situation (pregnant, breastfeeding, postpartum woman, infant or child). WIC foods are chosen based on nutritional value and USDA standards. WIC recipients will be given a WIC card. To use your benefit, swipe your WIC card the same way you would with a debit or credit card. Learn more about WIC cards on USDA’s website.