By Autumn Green
Michaela Martin was a single mom who needed child care in order to attend community college. Unfortunately, her campus child care center had a two- to three-year waitlist, and her program was only two years. When she tried to engage the college’s administration about her child care concerns, she was told that first the college needed data about how many students had children in need of care. But the college did not collect this data at the time.
After years of effort, first as an Oregon State University transfer student, and now as a law student at the University of LaVerne in California, Michaela has helped ensure that this is about to change for Oregon college students.
The state of Oregon just passed Senate Bill 564, officially entered at Michaela’s request, that will allow students to identify whether they are parents or acting as parents or guardians on forms used annually to collect demographic information at public post-secondary education institutions, including community colleges and public universities. In addition to biological parents, this language was carefully crafted to include custodial grandparents, step-parents, sibling-caregivers, and others who are caring for children during college. The institutions will share the data with the state, and it will then be reported publicly.
This seems like a simple, even minor, change: a couple more questions on a form. But those few questions will make a huge difference in the lives of student parents.