Governor Newsom has signed into law a bill aimed at providing help to single parents in college as they balance classwork and parenting. One of our Catholic Advocacy Day bill, the Conference has been working diligently on the passage of AB 809 for the entire session.
AB 809 by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) will help pregnant and parenting students complete their higher education by providing more information about their protections under Title IX, and encouraging on-campus childcare programs to prioritize the children of single, low-income students.
Title IX protections for pregnant and parenting students include the ability to make up missed classwork due to pregnancy or childbirth, the ability to return to the same academic status after a medical leave and the ability to have home instruction or independent study to meet course requirements. These rules will ease the challenges of juggling pregnancy or parenting with classwork – but only 39 percent of college campuses publish this information on their websites. That leaves too many mothers and pregnant students to make decisions about their education based on a crippling lack of information.
Pregnant and parenting students already face remarkable hurdles when it comes to obtaining a college degree. Only 50 percent of teen mothers will earn a high school diploma or GED by age 22, and even fewer will attend higher education due to the overwhelming demands of parenthood. Nearly half of single parents also work full-time jobs while in school, making flexible childcare both a critical part of this bill and of a parenting student’s success.
Thank you to the thousands of Catholic Legislative Network members who sent emails and contacted their elected representatives in support of AB 809. With your help, pregnant and parenting students will now have a greater chance for success in higher education.