The Families Climb Together (FCT) project set out to illuminate, document and make public the critical connection between low- income mothers’/parents’ college pursuit and children’s education and wellbeing. Designed as a preliminary stage of a larger project FCT sought to develop and pilot an approach to uncover the interactive dynamic between parents’ seeking college education and children’s schooling and preschool progress.

This project focuses on a largely unexplored yet crucial aspect of successful pursuit of education; how families try to climb together. Using participatory methods to develop a model for research on the whole-family intergenerational investment and impact of higher education for student parents and their children. This project also set out to develop a comprehensive and in-depth review of current scholarship and evaluation data that might inform best practices for postsecondary success for low-income parents in college.

The project partnered with Portland State University’s Office of Services for Students with Children and a leadership group of student parents. Through these efforts the initiative grew into a statewide legislative advocacy effort in Oregon aimed at changing current policies that do not currently allow post-secondary education to count toward work requirements for cash assistance and employment related daycare.

Luisa S. Deprez, PhD and Lisa Dodson, PhD