How PSU supports student parents

By: Ragan Love

About 24 percent of Portland State students are parents or caregivers, and PSU offers many resources to help the unique challenges that come with balancing family and scholar life. One of the main support centers is the Resources for Students with Children. You can find its main office on the 4th floor of Smith Memorial Student Building, or the daycare centers on campus that they help facilitate. 

Resources for Students with Children are here to help every Portland State student who is helping raise a child, regardless if they are a parental figure. If you are a student who has a child and needs some aid in raising them, the RCSC is an amazing resource for you!

Resources with Students with Children have open doors (currently with appointments because of the COVID-19 pandemic) that can help a student who is responsible for a child. During a typical school year, there is a study area where a student can work on schoolwork and their child can play with some of the activities available in the room.

There is a lot of material aid that the RCSC can offer students including diapers and clothes in lots of different sizes. If you are in need of something for your child, you will most likely find it here and it’s there for students to take advantage of. 

Portland State’s RCSC is very different from others across the country because it makes sure that students don’t  have to pick between their education and their child. One of the most prominent resources are the Lactation Rooms all across campus. There are 13 and some of them even provide the big pumping machine so you just have to bring your own tubes. In each room there is a comfy chair and a fridge where you can store milk during class. These rooms are locked to the general public but students can receive a code from the RCSC.

Staff members at the Resource Center for Students with Children. Photo courtesy of Smith Student Union.

The RCSC also has aid for students who need financial help with a child’s daycare through the Jim Sells Grant which can help cover a portion or all of the cost of childcare one campus. See other ways Portland State support its student parents, including services like the Food Pantry.

RCSC also runs two daycares: Little Vikings and Baby Vikings Flexible childcare. Little/Baby Vikings have hourly and full time slots available for kids six weeks to 12 years. Little Vikings is the bigger center and is directed by Marisol Barce (co-directed by Kacy Garner) and accepts all different age groups. While in care, they will sing, draw, and play with the children. There is also room for the school-aged children to do any school work and activities they have with them. Baby Vikings is a smaller center that specifically caters to six-weeks until 2 years old and is directed by Kacy Garner (and co-directed by Marisol Barce). At Baby Vikings, the children have the opportunity to do sensory exploration and share a space with other children. 

The number of children allowed in the centers are currently lower due to COVID-19, but capacity will increase once it’s safe. Here is a video from Little/Baby Vikings that gives a good view on the daycare. DISCLAIMER: hours shown are from Pre-COVID.

Other childcare resources on campus include the ASPSU Children’s Center and the Helen Gordon Child Development Center. These are run by the College of Education and have a focus more on permanent care with a curriculum as Little/Baby Vikings is flexible and does a wide array of learning activities. 

The RCSC recognizes that parents can sometimes struggle to balance work, child care and self-care while they continue their academic journey, and they envision a future in which students with children receive all the supports and services they need to complete their goals and provide a brighter future for themselves and their families.