A new resource guide, developed by the Concordia University Student Parents (CUSP) Centre, will soon be available to the community. “The guide will benefit, first and foremost, student parents, but it will also be helpful for parents in general,” explains Kristy Heeren, the CUSP Coordinator.
Heeren estimates that as many as 5,000 Concordia students are also parents themselves. She points out that while studying at university can be exciting, juggling the responsibilities of parenthood and school can be daunting, especially for students who have been out of school for a while. A few years ago, the CUSP Centre was created to address this need. The “service is designed to help students with children achieve their academic goals,” Heeren explains.
A significant proportion of the centre’s 275 members are single parents (mostly women) and international students. Currently operating under the auspices of the Dean of Students Office, CUSP is often called upon to provide advice and referrals to students needing assistance. The most frequent requests include finding child care, housing, and financial aid.
Student parents may face a number of challenges, Heeren explains. “Increased financial strain, increased role strain. Sometimes they don’t quite fit the criteria of the loans and bursaries system, so it’s harder for them to get financial support.” Heeren is pleased with the new 32-page CUSP Resource Guide, which pulls together a broad range of information collected during a semester-long series of Life Skills Workshops, free meetings held in a child-friendly environment.
CUSP applied to the Concordia Small Grants Program, and to provincial and federal sources, for the funds to print 700 copies of the guide. The guide lists resources available within Concordia as well as those accessible via the broader Montreal community. It also covers everything from career counselling, dentistry, CLSC resources, parenting support (in person and online) and playgroups.
Along with Heeren, Alex Chibrook, Smita Bhattacharyya, Dan Tenveen, Tim McSorley and Larissa Dutil contributed to the creation of the guide, which is available through CUSP, Room TD-24, 1410 Guy St. The centre also provides a safe, accessible place for students to meet, study and develop a support network. The lounge features couches and a microwave, computers with Internet access, and a children’s play area. CUSP can be reached at 514-848-2424, ext. 2431 or by email.
• Dean of Students Office website