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UC research helping young Canberra mothers

Amanda Jones

3 March 2014: A University of Canberra academic is thrilled his research examining the success of education programs for young mothers has played an influential role in a new $14.5 million CCCares facility to be built at the Woden campus of Canberra College.

The CCCares program, which has been operating out of the Weston campus since its inception in 2004, was the focus of Iain Hay's PhD titled "Clearing them for Learning": Exploring the critical factors for success in school-based young mothers' education programs.

"There was limited research available in Australia on the quality of school-based education programs for young mothers. My research set out to inform education policy frameworks that aim to improve educational outcomes for young mothers through school-based programs," Dr Hay, an assistant professor of education at the University of Canberra, said.

CCCares provides an education and support program for pregnant and parenting students in the ACT and surrounding region—allowing them to bring their children who are under five years old to school with them.

"My research identified the importance of a purpose-built centre for young mothers if the program at Canberra College was to expand and serve a greater population of students, and I am delighted that this has become a reality," he said.

"I commend the ACT Government for their commitment to quality public education and in particular supporting the needs of young mothers and their children in the ACT region."

Dr Hay will also head overseas in May, working as an adjunct professor at York University for three months on an international research project that will investigate the best ways to support young mothers.

sod turning

L-R: CCCares student Adrielle Conners, her daughter Amelia and ACT Education Minister Joy Burch turn the first sod for the new CCCares centre. Photo: Shaun Bennett, Education and Training Directorate

Former Canberra College principal John Stenhouse said Dr Hay's research helped increase awareness and acceptance for the program, both locally and nationally.

"Dr Hay's work proved very useful in spreading the word about the good work being done at CCCares," Mr Stenhouse, now executive officer at the Office of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies, said.

"He was one of a number of people whose work had an influence on the success and direction of the CCCares program."

The Canberra College community, University of Canberra, Canberra Institute of Technology and the ACT Health Directorate were involved in discussions on the design of the building, with ACT Education Minister Joy Burch turning the first sod to mark the start of construction on 13 February.

"For young parents there are often huge hurdles to overcome in order to stay in school and finish their formal education but the rewards are huge, both for the students themselves and for the wider community," Ms Burch said.

The new facility includes flexible open learning areas and specialised teaching spaces, childcare facilities, nurse's rooms and play areas. It can accommodate 80 students and children at any one time, with approximately 150 students currently enrolled.

The facility is due for completion by early 2015.