Students with dependents in academia, including students who play the role of parent, caregiver, or primary provider to a dependent, often juggle many different personal roles inside and outside the classroom. A dependent is typically defined as a minor or child whom adults, in this case students, are responsible for. This responsibility can take the form of financial, physical, and/or emotional support from caregiver to dependent. For students with dependents, this means balancing parental responsibilities along with academics, which requires them to take on a larger workload than most traditional students. To counteract some of the stress that this can have on an individual, the Students with Dependents (SwD) Program at UCLA offers additional resources personalized to these students.
The SwD Program was set in place to provide added support to the parenting community at UCLA. The program offers support to UCLA undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who have taken on the role of parent, guardian, or caregiver and have continued their academic career. This support is aimed to make the transition into UCLA smoother for the parents and their families. The program commits itself to “promoting parent success” and offers a variety of resources that aid their mission.
The SwD Program helps provide a space for students to thrive academically while maintaining healthy parenting practices. The SwD Program does this by providing resources through their program and through partnerships with additional organizations. Through their program, students have access to a facility located in the Bruin Resource Center that is family-friendly space that students can use as a study, meeting, and social space. The program’s staff is also available to help students with referrals to other programs or organizations that would be able to better accommodate their own individual needs. The program’s website provides a Parent Guide to help students navigate the SwD Program and offers information on resources involving food security, Title IX, health insurance, and health care. The staff at their facility also provide assistance with programs such as CalFresh, CalWorks/Gain, WIC, and MediCal.
Through partnerships with parenting student organizations at UCLA, the SwD Program is also able to direct parents to organizations that would not only be able to better engage them as students, but also offer support for their individual cases. Partnered organizations include resources that would help parents with individual needs, such as identifying mothers of color, or parents seeking resources and support for students with special-needs children. The SwD Program website offers more information on different parent student groups and their individual mission statements. Also available are their contact information and different social media platforms.
The SwD Program offers different events and workshops throughout the year that center around both academic and financial wellness, along with events for the dependents of the students. Events include study halls and informative workshops for the parents, and movie nights and karaoke for the families. SwD also hosts the annual program Little Bruin Wishes where families can anonymously sign up to receive gifts based on their dependent’s wish lists. The program runs through November until finals week in December every year and gives participants the opportunity to help a family provide gifts during the holidays. There is also a family-friendly Parenting Graduation hosted by the SwD program in partnership with Parenting Students at UCLA (PSUCLA) that allows parents to walk across the stage with their dependent(s) while they all wear caps and gowns.
The Students with Dependents Program offers student parents a space where they and their families are able to feel supported through their academic journey. Along with academic support and financial referrals, the SwD program has created a space where parents can feel comfortable with their families, and where their efforts in maintaining both roles as parent and student are validated. This program aids in giving the students the ability to involve their dependents with their academics, and provides the support needed for academic success.