Thursday, May 30, 2024

UTSA to assess new model for supporting student parents

UTSA to assess new model for supporting student parents

APRIL 1, 2022 — UTSA Academic Affairs today announced plans to assess the needs of its student parents and evaluate how the university can best support students with children as they pursue their education.

The initiative will be led by Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Students LT Robinson who, in partnership with Business Affairs, has been charged to create a new model to address the changing needs of Roadrunner student parents through the Division of Student Affairs.

As part of this transition, the Child Development Center will cease operations May 31.

In the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated long-term challenges facing the childcare industry in the US. A July 2021 survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is the accreditation agency of the CDC, revealed that four out of every five responding centers were facing staffing shortages; centers that were open were operating at an average enrollment rate of 71% of their licensed capacity.

“UTSA is committed to supporting our student parents, and we are proud of the Child Development Center’s history of providing high-quality early childhood education,” said UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “Unfortunately, the pandemic has changed the needs of student parents, and it is important for us to consider how to develop a more sustainable model for services to meet their needs for the long term.”

The Child Development Center closed temporarily in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic and reopened in January 2021 for the Spring 2021 semester. Since then, it has experienced low enrollment and short-term closures due to outbreaks and a November 2021 fire that damaged the HVAC system and attic-level insulation. Though it is licensed to enroll 80 children, it currently has 23 enrolled students.

Developing solutions for what is an ongoing problem nationally will challenge her team to be creative, Robinson said, adding that university leadership and Student Affairs staff are open to exploring all options, particularly the opportunity to collaborate with community partners. The first step, she said, will be working directly with UTSA’s student parents to determine their needs.

“Providing services that address the changing needs of students who are parents is our top priority,” she said, “and we are committed to exploring new options and support systems.”

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