Miami, Feb. 13, 2023 – Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Mission North Star Young Parent Program provides young student parents (ages 18-29) with wraparound services and a seamless pathway to earn higher wages while their children meet developmental milestones and reach academic achievement. The program has become one of MDC’s most significant success stories in recent years and one of the College’s most comprehensive student assistance programs.
Established in 2019, Mission North Star Young Parent Program is part of Expanding Opportunities for Young Families (EOYF), a multiyear effort to support young parents and their kids led by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. MDC is one of three colleges across the country participating in the program.
According to a recent Child Trends report, 1 in 4 community college students are parents. In addition, most have children under the age of six and need more assistance with food and housing compared to non-parenting students.
“Mission North Star is unlike any other program at MDC because it focuses on supporting a portion of the student body that is highly vulnerable of being deprived of a college education given the responsibilities of parenthood and meeting necessities such as food and housing,” said Stephanie Silva, Mission North Star’s Program Manager. “Thanks to the collaboration and dedication of the program’s community partners and parent ambassadors, this program has helped MDC students stay enrolled and progress toward degrees and credentials that lead to better jobs.”
Mission North Star Young Parent Program currently helps nearly 100 students and has graduated 26 (including four who also obtained their GED). These graduates have succeeded in their goal of securing higher-wage employment or continuing their higher education.
One example is Jessenia Estrada, a 29-year-old mom of two, who joined the program in March 2021 to earn a GED and attend MDC.
“I never thought it would be possible for me to return to school. I just had so many things going on as a parent,” Estrada said. “It is truly amazing to come across a program willing to help in every way possible. As a result, I’ve become the best role model for my children.”
Mission North Star covered her tuition, helped her set family goals and provided all-around support. After earning her GED last summer, Estrada is now in her second semester at MDC pursuing an associate degree in speech pathology and audiology.
Estrada’s seven-year-old son has also benefited from the program. He was having learning difficulties at school and Mission North Star referred her to a community organization to get occupational therapy for the child. A year later, her son’s learning improved.
“He did a complete 180. He has matured a lot more, he’s more focused and disciplined, and has drastically improved in school,” Estrada said.
The program is keen on helping more students like Estrada. In addition to all the services it already provides, including Parent Ambassadors and Fathers Stepping Up, Mission North Star is planning to expand services in the coming months. These include the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS), a program that pays for childcare and is open to parents of any age enrolled in at least nine credits at MDC who are Pell eligible and have at least a 2.0 GPA. Mission North Star will also continue to offer specific services, such as the “fathers work group” to assist young fathers specifically.
The program’s community partners include Affirming Youth Foundation, Inc.; Be Strong International, C.O.P.E. Center North, Citrus Health Network, Community Coalition, Concerned African Women, ConnectFamilias, Early Learning Coalition, Educate Tomorrow, enFAMILIA, Fatherhood Task Force, Healthy Start Coalition, Mexican American Council, Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center, Single Stop, The Children’s Trust, The Dennis Project, Tree of Life Parenting Center and YWCA South Florida.
Student parents interested in being considered for the program can visit Mission North Star’s website at https://www.mdc.edu/singlestop/services/young-parent-hub/, which includes a link to the intake form.
Mission North Star Young Parent Program is part of MDC’s Single Stop, a one-stop-shop offering students a wide array of services, including public benefits screening, financial coaching, individual counseling, tax preparation, access to a food pantry, and various other services, which are free to MDC students and their immediate family members. MDC’s partnership with Single Stop was established in 2010, and to date, more than 66,000 students and families have benefited from the program’s services. Learn more at https://www.mdc.edu/singlestop/services/young-parent-hub/.
For more information about Mission North Star Young Parent Program, please contact Stephanie Silva at 305-237-0316, firstname.lastname@example.org