Bill to Strengthen Protections for Pregnant and Parenting Students Sails Through First Committee

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Sacramento, CA – Today the Assembly Committee on Higher Education voted unanimously to advance AB 809, a measure authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles). The bill aims to help pregnant and parenting students complete their higher education by providing more information about their protections under Title IX, and encouraging on-campus childcare programs to prioritize the children of single, low-income students.

“Students should never have to choose between their pregnancy or parenting responsibilities and a higher education,” Santiago said. “As Betsy DeVos works overtime to roll back Title IX protections, California is doubling down. If we can help more young mothers earn their degree by simply providing them with information about their protected rights, then we absolutely should. And to be frank – it’s long overdue.” 

Title IX protections for pregnant and parenting students include the ability to make up missed classwork due to pregnancy, and the ability to return to the same academic status after a medical leave. These rules are designed to ease the challenges of juggling pregnancy or parenting with classwork – but only 39% of college campuses publish this information on their websites. That leaves too many mothers and pregnant students to make decisions about their education based on a crippling lack of information.

Pregnant and parenting students already face remarkable hurdles when it comes to obtaining a college degree. Only 50% of teen mothers will earn a high school diploma or GED by age 22, and even fewer will attend higher education due to the overwhelming demands of parenthood. Nearly half of single parents also work full-time jobs while in school, making flexible childcare both a critical part of this bill and of a parenting student’s success.

The bill now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the Chair of the Assembly’s Communications and Conveyance Committee, and a member of both the Assembly Public Safety Committee and the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.