Mohawk develops new education model for student-caregivers in Hamilton


Published December 12, 2023 at 3:15 pm

Mohawk College and the Hamilton Public Library have collaborated for a new project to support students with children.

The College estimates about 18 per cent of its student body has to juggle their education and taking care of their kids. “These students often struggle to balance their academic responsibilities with care provision for their dependents,” the College wrote.

To address this struggle, they started a research study with funds from the federal College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCIF) to develop, implement, and evaluate new supports. They are supporting the students, and their children in the same space at the same, through what they’re calling “tandem educational programming.”

“This project represents an exciting opportunity to bring together existing resources to create something new and needed. HPL already provides engaging community-based programming for patrons of all ages. Mohawk College has a robust peer-tutoring program through its Learning Support Centre, and enrolls hundreds of trainees in Early Childhood Education programs,” Dr. Pamela Ingleton, Director of the College Student Success Innovation Centre.

Ingleton in also the project lead on the study. “This dynamic collaboration is a potential blueprint for developing programs that address community needs. As an added benefit, it helps foster intergenerational experiences and the role-modeling and normalization of help-seeking behaviour, in this case accessing educational support or tutoring,” she said.

The study examines the “value of providing dedicated learning time for student-caregivers without separating them from their caregiving roles,” the college said.

The library benefits by extending its reach to new readers.

“The proposed tandem programming will provide Hamilton Public Library new ways to support student-caregivers while offering children positive experiences that focus on early literacy, school readiness and building social-emotional skills,” said Director of Collections and Program Development Cindy Poggiaroni, “This great partnership with Mohawk College aligns with HPL’s commitment to supporting literacy and fostering a lifelong love of reading in our community.”

This study, the college said, it the first of its kind to offer this multi-generational approach to education to “provide much-needed resources to an underserved and underrecognized population.” The project has a three-year plan to assist local student-caregivers and work toward a “scalable model” they can apply to communities across the country.


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