Lending a Helping Hand to Student-Parents

University College and the SCHOLAR Program are hoping to coordinate a Students with Children Network

University College and the SCHOLAR Program have been working collaboratively over the fall semester to address the needs of Ferris students with children.

Karen GreenBay, coordinator of the Socio-Cultural Holistic Learning and Retention (SCHOLAR) Peer Mentor Program and William Potter, Dean of the University College, are working together to coordinate the prospective Students with Children (SWC) Network.

“The major goal for implementing this network is to attract, engage, and retain students with children who are entering or returning to college,” said GreenBay.

The SWC Network will offer activities, resources, and services to students with children. These include peer mentors, referrals to campus and community resources, parenting education seminars, and family-oriented programs.

Potter said, “We have family housing and it provides housing. We have Tot’s Place and they provide childcare. But that’s pretty much where it ends. One does housing and one does childcare. Beyond that I’m not sure what else is provided to students who have children beyond those direct services.”

The initiative began as a result of increased attendance of young children at SCHOLAR events during the 2008-2009 academic year.

GreenBay and Potter enlisted the help of sociology professor Bonnie Wright and her social research class to compile a needs assessment throughout the semester.

“The needs assessment will look at how many students have children, what things they need for their family, and what types of things are getting in the way of them completing their schoolwork satisfactorily,” said Potter. “We’ll then see if we can develop a program to help them deal with these issues.”

Some activities were already provided to student-parents and their children this fall, which included horseback riding and wagon rides, a fun day at Craig’s Cruisers, and a family event at Van Andel Arena.

An appreciation event is planned for SWC on Saturday, Jan. 30 in the Rankin Center. The event will offer workshops on financial management, community resources, and family relations.

“We are excited to offer this appreciation event to Ferris student who have children,” said GreenBay. “We hope to expose students to campus and community resources, help students obtain valuable information from the workshop presenters, begin dialogue with families to discuss their needs as a college student with children, and much more.”