Many colleges provide programs and services that help student parents succeed, such as on-campus child development centers, welfare-to-work programs, and lactation rooms. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the particular struggles of students responsible for school-aged children were made visible, as parents and children had to navigate access to computers, Wi-Fi, and quiet study space, among many other challenges.

In fall 2021, Long Beach City College (LBCC) conducted an online student survey to assess the impacts of the pandemic. Approximately 900 students, nearly 20 percent of survey respondents, indicated that childcare was a possible barrier to their ability to return to in-person learning. With this in mind, LBCC conducted another survey over the summer for students self-identified as parents to determine their potential interest in an after-school program. One student responded,

I am now on my last year at LBCC and this fall I am not able to attend two in-person classes (that meet every Thursday at 3:30-6:00 p.m.) due to not having [a] caregiver for my two young children. If LBCC starts this childcare program now, I would be able to take this class and graduate my course by next spring.

Another student shared, “I would take more classes and be more focus[ed] in my studies. Living with my parents and children, I don’t have anywhere to sit and focus completely without interruptions.” Based on this feedback from students, LBCC piloted an on-campus after-school program in partnership with the Long Beach Boys & Girls Clubs (BGC) in fall 2022.

After-school program students have fun on a summer field trip to Adventure City

LBCC’s On-Campus After-School Program

The after-school program is free to LBCC students who are caregivers, including parents, guardians, siblings, grandparents, and any student responsible for the care of school-aged children, ages 6 to 18. LBCC was able to allocate one classroom and a nearby shared kitchenette with a refrigerator. BGC provides a manager and support staff. Their responsibilities are to supervise the children; lead activities, such as homework help, STEM experiments, art projects, music lessons, and outdoor recreation using campus athletics facilities; provide a snack and hot dinner; and mentor LBCC Federal Work Study students who gain on-the-job experience. The program’s hours of operation are 2:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. After the 2022-2023 academic year, LBCC and BGC expanded to offer a no-cost summer program to students and employees, which was open 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. During the school year, the program serves approximately 100 children, and in summer 2023, participation grew to nearly 150 children.

The hard costs to LBCC are minimal, beyond the staff hours to coordinate program administration. LBCC has a long-established relationship with the local K-12, Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), which provided youth furnishings and materials as well as ongoing financial support to offset BGC’s staffing and program operation costs. As a K-12 system, LBUSD has access to expanded learning opportunities funding designated to support after-school programs and related activities.

Impact of LBCC’s After-School Program

LBCC is monitoring the success data for student parents who participate in the after-school program. It is too early to calculate completion rates, but, in general, students are able to choose from a wider variety of classes, stay enrolled, pass their classes, and persist to the next semester. In an online survey of participants, one student said,

I have more time to watch lectures and complete assignments, and I spend less time worrying about my daughter’s homework and having to prepare dinner. I feel like I can stay on track with my academic goals now and finish a semester earlier than I expected.

Another potential benefit could be that participating children find the idea of college less mysterious and inaccessible. After spending time on campus, they may have a better understanding of their parents’ educational journeys and be more inspired to pursue higher education themselves. After a successful first year, LBCC plans to continue the after-school program and is committed to leading with innovative solutions for the benefit of all students.

Mike Muñoz, Ed.D.

Superintendent-President
Long Beach City College

Tracy Carmichael, Ph.D.

Chief Innovation Officer
Long Beach City College

Lead image: After-school program students learn how to make slime during a STEM lesson


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