Elizabeth Marilla-Kapp, University Counseling Service

Cover for the Student Parent and Student Caregiver COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Guide

On this page:

The Impact of the Pandemic

Why This Assistance Is Needed

Practical Options to Use to Help You Manage the Impact of the Pandemic

 

The Impact of the Pandemic

While Covid-19 has impacted our entire Hawkeye community, this ongoing circumstance may amplify the already significant challenges of caregiving for a child or other loved one as a student. Student parents, caregivers, and those living in multigenerational households may face additional considerations regarding their own health/mental health vulnerabilities and those of their loved ones; disruptive changes to or loss of both formal and informal childcare arrangements; demands around homeschooling/self-educating their children; the possible impact of income loss on family finances, including food and housing security; relationship strain; intensifying feelings of alienation from the college experience; and loss of time and space for studying, sleep, and self-care.

Why This Assistance Is Needed

Covid-19 will impact student parents and caregivers in as many different ways as there are student parents and caregivers. We know that student parents are disproportionately women, and that they disproportionately identify as low-income.[1] Additionally, Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted BILAPOC (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and People of Color) communities and racial disparities around access to parenting/caregiving resources have already long impacted these same communities. LGBTQ+ parents and caregivers also face both formal barriers and bias when collaborating with systems to care for their loved ones. International Students may be coping with shifting federal policies related to status, travel restrictions, and living at a distance from loved ones. Students living with disabilities and students parenting or caring for others living with disabilities may experience concerns around heightened risk, as well as new barriers to accessing important supports. It will be imperative to attend to these kinds of intersections when addressing the strengths and needs of student parents and caregivers at the University of Iowa. The routinely refreshed resources shared below are just a few possible places to begin exploring how parenting and caregiving challenges intersect with identity. Many of the local organizations shared later in the resource also host programming specifically intended to support families and youth holding marginalized identities. The University Counseling Service staff is available to identify additional resources tailored to your circumstance.

@makemotherhooddiverse (Instagram) Mom and Dad are Fighting (Podcast)
@strongblackfathers (Instagram) Call your Girlfriend (Podcast)
@motherhoodrising (Instagram) The Fatherly Podcast
@inclusivestorytime (Instagram) Motherhood Sessions Podcast
@indigenousmotherhood (Instagram) Two Mommies and a Baby Podcast
@blackmamasmatter (Instagram) The Frugalwoods (Blog)>
@bmbfa (Instagram) I’m Not the Nanny (Blog)
@specialneedsnetwork (Instagram) Dirt & Noise (Blog)
The Next Family (organization) American Psychological Association Covid-19 Parenting & Caregiving Guide (Online Resource)
College with Kids (organization) A Cup of Jo  (Blog)
Latinx Parenting, @latinxparenting (organization)  

 

STRENGTHS  >>  Children and loved ones are an important motivator for student parents and caregivers and being a parent or caregiver is an important skill set that should be valued within the classroom and the workplace! Student parents/caregivers are creative, resourceful, skilled, and resilient.

My success in law school, I have no doubt, was in large measure because of baby Jane. I attended classes and studied diligently until 4 in the afternoon; the next hours were Jane’s time, spent at the park, playing silly games or singing funny songs, reading picture books and A. A. Milne poems, and bathing and feeding her. After Jane’s bedtime, I returned to the law books with renewed will. Each part of my life provided respite from the other and gave me a sense of proportion that classmates trained only on law studies lacked.[2]

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice

 

BY THE NUMBERS >> Student parents often feel invisible, but student parents are NOT alone. While being a student parent is not the most visible college experience—not the one you see in the movies—in 2016, 25% of undergraduate students nationwide were raising children.[3] Additionally, less than 20% of students nationwide fit the traditional college timeline.[4] 149 students accessed the Financial Aid Childcare Subsidy administered by Family Services in AY 2019-2020, but the actual number of student parents (and those caring for other loved ones while studying at Iowa) is likely far higher. The University of Iowa does not currently collect data on the total number of students who identify as parents or caregivers, but future data collection efforts in this area would meaningfully inform and enhance supportive programming for this student group and increase the visibility of this important student experience on campus.  


Practical Options to Use to Help You Manage the Impact of the Pandemic

The University of Iowa’s Family Services[5] department offers…

  • A childcare subsidy to assist students in paying for formal childcare arrangements
  • Free childcare to children of student parents during the several weeks before finals period
  • Scholarships for Spring Break Camp (K-6)
  • On-campus lactation rooms
  • Back-up childcare options

The University Counseling Service[6] offers…

  • Free consultation toward on campus mental health care when appropriate or connection to a community provider for enrolled students, offered by practitioners passionate about supporting student parents and caregivers and students studying after young adulthood.
  • Self-paced online resources for self-care and stress management.
  • Free Case Management and problem-solving appointments for support navigating important community resources—we acknowledge that accessing family resources is hard work.
  • Tailored outreach programs to student groups around mental health & student parenting/caregiving.
  • Consultation with other UI Faculty and Staff about how to effectively support student parents/caregivers in the classroom and beyond.
  • HOMELIFE – A weekly, open, Zoom-based Support Group for students who parent; students who care for siblings, elders, or other loved ones; and students who are pregnant or expecting a child. Please see UCS website for the most recent scheduling information and how to join.

Student Care & Assistance[7] offers support to University of Iowa students experiencing crisis including…

  • Hospitalization
  • Medical emergencies or long-term illness
  • Mental health concerns
  • Chronic conditions
  • Death of a family member
  • Natural disasters - fire, tornado, flood
  • Off campus living concerns
  • Unexpected events or challenges

 

Important Off-Campus Organizations Serving Local Families Include[8], but are not limited to…

 

References

[1] https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/10/completing-a-degree-raising-a-child/503894/

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/opinion/sunday/ruth-bader-ginsburgs-advice-for-living.html?_r=0&auth=login-email&login=email

[3] https://iwpr.org/publications/4-8-million-college-students-are-raising-children/

[4] https://www.aascu.org/uploadedFiles/AASCU/Content/Root/MediaAndPublications/PublicPurposeMagazines/Issue/10fall_adultstudents.pdf

[5] https://hr.uiowa.edu/well-being/family-services/child-care/student-parent-resources

[6] https://counseling.uiowa.edu/

[7] https://dos.uiowa.edu/assistance/

[8] These departments also support rural and distance learners in identifying resources where they reside.