(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Pamela Lampitt, Mila Jasey, Marlene Caride, Gabriela Mosquera and Benjie Wimberly to help ensure that parents pursuing higher education in New Jersey have access to the services and accommodations they need was advanced by an Assembly panel on Thursday.
“Women who are pregnant or have children – many of whom also work – face unique challenges as they pursue their education that their professors and peers may not even realize limit their capacity to succeed,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “These bills will make it easier for parents to earn a degree so that they can better provide for their children.”
“Too often, parents who want to seek out the qualifications that will make them more marketable to employers find that difficulties in finding adequate child care or taking time off from coursework put them at an academic disadvantage,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “This legislation is about making sure that students with children don’t feel that they have to compromise their studies in order to care for their families.”
“Some schools do not even realize student-parents are enrolled on campus, nor do they understand the obstacles that these parents may encounter due to the lack of accommodations,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Just as New Jersey has made an effort to ensure that working parents may be both good mothers and fathers and good employees, college students with children need to know that they will have the resources and accommodations they require to succeed.”
“Women who are expecting or already have children deserve to be protected from any type of discrimination on a college campus,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “This legislation is long overdue and will provide students who also are parents the support they need as they pursue higher education.”
“College campuses can be and should be more supportive to students with children,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Many mothers and soon-to-be mothers are taking college courses to advance in their career. This is very important legislation that will ensure equal rights and opportunities for pregnant students and students with children on New Jersey’s college campuses.”
- A-1465 (Lampitt/Mosquera/Wimberly): The bill would prohibit institutions of higher education from requiring any student to take a leave of absence, withdraw from an associate, baccalaureate or graduate program or limit her studies due to her pregnancy or issues related to her pregnancy. Institutions also would be required to develop, adopt and distribute policies regarding pregnancy discrimination.
The measure also would require schools to provide pregnant students with reasonable accommodations, for example allowing the student to maintain a safe distance away from hazardous materials or make up examinations missed due to pregnancy-related issues, for the successful completion of coursework and research.
Additionally, under the bill, a student who chooses to take a leave of absence because she is pregnant or recently has given birth would be allowed extension periods to prepare for and take preliminary and qualifying examinations and must be granted extensions normative time to degree while in candidacy.
The bill would allow a student taking a leave of absence due to a child’s birth who is not the birth parent to take a leave period consistent with the policies of the institution of higher education or of up to one month, whichever period is longer.
- A-1466 (Lampitt/Jasey/Caride/Mosquera/Wimberly): The bill would prohibit institutions of higher education from requiring students with children to: (1) purchase meal plans; (2) reside in on-campus housing except when required as a condition of entry into a residential cohort or access program or as a condition of receipt of a scholarship; (3) or pay any fees associated with the use of a campus gym, fitness center or other recreational facility, as long as the fee is not associated with fees for other campus services including, but not limited to, transportation. The institution will not be required to allow a student to use the campus gym, fitness center or other recreational facility is the associated fees are not paid.
- A-1467 (Lampitt/Jasey/Caride/Mosquera/Wimberly): The bill would prohibit institutions of higher education that provide child care from charging a student who receives a child care voucher under the “New Jersey Care for Kids Program” an amount that exceeds the voucher amount. The program assists families within certain income guidelines with the cost of necessary child care services.
The three measures were released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee, of which Lampitt is chair.