Did you know that college students who are also parents are 10 times less likely than their childless peers to receive their bachelor’s degree? As Congress considers historic investments to expand high-quality, affordable child care, state policymakers should start thinking about the best ways to support the needs of student-parents and their children with those new funds.

We know that parents who complete college can expect to earn more money. Less discussed, however, is that kids also benefit from these degrees. When parents—particularly mothers—increase their educational attainment, their children’s early academic and cognitive skills improve. In fact, maternal education is the strongest predictor of children’s later success in school.

But a key barrier to college completion for student-parents is a lack of access to high-quality and reliable child care. A declining number of community colleges offer on-campus child care, and most on-site care does not operate in the evenings, a common time for parents to take college courses. Student-parents often have to rely on a patchwork of providers, temporary babysitters, and family or friends. The pandemic has only magnified these challenges. In the last year, three-quarters of student-parents reported spending 40 or more hours per week caring for their children, leaving little time for college coursework. Unstable child care arrangements are also bad for children, who do best when they receive consistent, high-quality care that helps them form strong attachment relationships with trusted adults.

Read the full article about student parents at MDRC.