Student-Caregiver Tandem Educational Programming

Learning 2Gether: Implementing 2Gen, Community-Based Tandem Educational Programming with Student-Caregivers and their Dependents 

Lead Organization: College Student Success Innovation Centre, Mohawk College 

Research Team: Pamela Ingleton (Project Director), Megan Waltenbury, Stephanie Pyne, Emily Carrasco-Acosta 

Funder: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) on behalf of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)'s College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program 

Partner: Hamilton Public Library

Collaborators: Dr. Tricia van Rhijn (University of Guelph), Learning Support Centre, Early Childhood Education 

Project Summary: 

Student-caregivers (i.e. post-secondary students with caregiving responsibilities, including but not limited to parents, grandparents, siblings, community members, etc.), an under-recognized and under-supported student population, encounter unique challenges and role constraints, including struggling to balance their academic success with that of their dependents. COVID-19 has highlighted and intensified persistent challenges for caregivers with multiple roles and exacerbated education/skills attainment gaps for their dependents. To ensure equitable access to educational supports in the face of these challenges, the assembled research and program delivery teams led by the College Student Success Innovation Centre at Mohawk College in partnership with the Hamilton Public Library (HPL), will develop, implement, and evaluate a community-based model for providing simultaneous or “tandem” educational programming to college-level student-caregivers and their early-year/school-aged dependents. The proposed model, grounded in a multi-generational or “2Gen” approach to service delivery, is the first of its kind to provide educational support to both populations at the same time and in the same space. Our model increases student-caregivers’ dedicated, quality time for focused learning that prioritizes (rather than minimizes or fragments) the “student” component of their dichotomous identity; fosters peer-to-peer connection; positions caregivers to role-model help-seeking behaviour for their dependents; and addresses caregivers’ childminding demands in a manner that also provides timely educational support to their dependents. 

Tandem educational programming will be facilitated at HPL branches across Hamilton in collaboration with HPL, Mohawk’s Learning Support Centre and Early Childhood Education programs, and dozens of Mohawk students (peer tutors, ECE trainees, and research partners). By leveraging our collective capacity, expertise, and complementary commitments to support learners of all ages, we will offer unprecedented access and resources to a historically underserved population in the short term, with the longer-term goal of promoting greater accessibility through the replication of our model in communities across Canada. Given the evidence-based relationship between academic success, socioeconomic outcomes, and social mobility, supporting student-caregivers and their dependents’ learning is both a practical and an ethical community development imperative.