Social services, local resources provide aid to student parents

Laura Spilsbury
Emmett McConeghey looks up at his mother, public health senior Autumn McConeghey. Emmett is one of the many children who were born to parents who are BYU students. (Laura Spilsbury)

Editor’s note: this story pairs with “Student parents share challenges, insights”

Many local resources and social services are available in Provo to assist low-income families with raising children, getting food and gaining employment.

Human development senior Megan Winters has heard of social services like the Women, Infants and Children program and Medicaid, but she said she hasn’t utilized them because she and her husband simply don’t know who to talk to or where to get information about them.

“We’ve been a little wary of doing things like that just because we don’t feel like we have enough information to make a good choice about it,” Winters said.

Here are a few local resources and social services available in Utah Valley students might find useful:

WIC Program

According to the USDA website, the WIC program is a governmental social service that provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for women, infants and children up to age five in low-income families. Women who are pregnant or postpartum, whether they’re breastfeeding or not, are eligible for these services if they fit within the income guidelines. Lactation consultation and help with formula is also available.

Public health senior Autumn McConeghey, who has a 4-month-old son named Emmett, said her family has greatly benefited from WIC services.

“WIC has been really helpful in supplying baby food for Emmett, which has been really helpful because we’re students, so we don’t often have like a lot of extra cash for all the extra things that come with babies,” McConeghey said.

According to the USDA, the WIC program has been in place since 1974, but participation has steadily decreased by 16 percent since peaking in 2010 at 9.2 million participants. In 2016, roughly 7.7 million people participated in the WIC program. The USDA notes on its website that this probably is due to a rise in economic growth, less unemployment and the declining birth rate in the United States.

McConeghey said she was able to find information on applying to the WIC program by speaking directly with WIC employees. There is a WIC office located in Provo, and there is also information on signing up for WIC in Utah on the Utah WIC website.


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Medicaid and the Department of Workforce Services

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Medicaid provides medical coverage to some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities. Students wishing to apply for Medicaid can do so on Utah’s Medicaid website. The Department of Workforce Services, which also provides help with child care and employment, provides these services. The Department of Workforce Services office is located on Freedom Boulevard, and students can find more information on the department’s website.

BYU Family-Friendly Study Room

The BYU Library’s Family-Friendly Study Room is a special area that has toys, play structures, a family bathroom, a nursing area, study tables and children’s books for students with children.

“It’s been great for when I need to meet up with classmates for a group project. I always suggest meeting there,” said theater education senior Nicole Schofield. “It’s really useful, but I wish there was more available at BYU for parents, like a daycare.”

BYU Academic Success Center

Some student parents struggle with managing their time after having a baby. McConeghey said the BYU Academic Success Center‘s time management workshop helped her to plan her schedule around her baby and his naps.

“They helped me to kind of come up with a schedule that wasn’t so rigid but that still contained everything I needed to do,” McConeghey said.

Utah County Health Department Welcome Baby Program

Additionally, the Utah County Health Department’s Welcome Baby program provides support for new parents who are not confident in raising a child. A volunteer visits the person’s home once a month to give support, information and training on raising a child. Interested students can call the Utah County Health Department for more information.

Gift of the Heart Exchange

The Gift of the Heart Exchange is a free clothing drive organized by the MBA Spouse Association and the Law Spousal Association for married students and their families. Donations come from students and a local consignment store called Kid2Kid. Students with a valid BYU ID card or their spouse’s ID card can get clothes for infants, children and adults — including maternity clothes; toys; houseware items and more. The exchange happens four times a year at different LDS churches in Provo.

“We’ve been able to get most of the clothes that we need from the gift exchange. On a student’s budget, especially, that’s been a really big help,” Winters said.

Students interested in learning more about the locations where they can find these services and more can refer to the map below.

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