Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist

A University-based diaper bank for student parents and caregivers may soon be a resource at Fresno State. The bold idea was presented by Dr. Jennifer Randles, Sociology Associate Professor, for the “Bold Ideas Challenge.”

In January, President Joseph Castro announced the third challenge as an opportunity for all faculty, staff and administrators to submit bold, innovative ideas on how services to students can be improved, fix an ineffective process on campus and advance the strategic plan.

Dr. Randles proposed creating a university-based diaper bank for student parents and caregivers because she saw a lack of access to sufficient diapers, which she believes is often a hidden consequence of inequality.

She says many students struggle to provide for their families and go to school at the same time. “Diaper support is an important way to ensure that our students can do both and meet their educational goals.”

Dr. Randles’ current research focuses on diaper need and the lack of access to sufficient diapers to keep an infant dry, comfortable, and healthy. Through this research, she discovered that one in three mothers struggles with diaper need.

“Given our student demographics, this means that a significant portion of our students also struggle with this issue,” said Dr. Randles.

Dr. Larissa Mercado-López, Women’s Studies Associate Professor, has been conducting research about student parents and says the national average shows student parents make up 15% of the student population but she estimates it’s closer to 25% at Fresno State.

That means about 6,292 students on campus are raising a child. In the survey Dr. Mercado-Lopez administered to student parents, nearly half of them (48%) indicated that their children were between 0 and 5 years old, a significant age group because they are in the diaper need range.

The selection of the top ideas was a process that involved staff, faculty and administrators from all across campus. The Creativity And Innovation For Excellence (CAIFE) alumni reviewed the submissions and made recommendations to the Cabinet. In March, the Cabinet announced the selected ideas and created working groups (CAIFE teams) charged with assessing and implementing the ideas beginning in September.

“I feel very honored and hope this will draw greater attention to the needs of our caregiving students who deserve our recognition and support. I appreciate the President’s Bold Ideas Selection Panel for recognizing the importance of this issue,” said Dr. Randles.

Bold Idea winners were announced and recognized last month at the Annual President’s Showcase of Excellence. Winners received either a $1,000 cash award or a $1,000 professional development award.