Student parents

As a student who is a parent, or is expecting a child, you have a lot of extra things to think about and responsibilities to juggle. Whatever your situation, advice|su can help you with support and information about:

Financial support for student parents

Student parents can apply for a parents learning allowance of £1,573 a year, which is not repayable. For details of how to apply see https://www.gov.uk/parents-learning-allowance/overview

Help with childcare costs

If you qualify for student finance, you can get extra help with childcare costs for children under 15, or under 17 if they have special educational needs. This is a grant, not a loan, and does not have to be repaid. For details of the amounts and how to apply, see https://www.gov.uk/childcare-grant

Important tips:

  • You can only claim for a registered childminder or nursery.
  • It’s important to keep very accurate records of what you’ve paid. If your childcare provider does not provide receipts regularly, don’t let this slip.
  • Ideally pay by cheque or bank transfer keeping a screenshot showing how much you have paid, who to, and when. If the provider asks for cash, you may be better looking elsewhere.

Other help if you are on benefits or a low income:

You may be eligible for these if you receive income support, tax credits or Universal Credit.

If you are in hardship, you may be able to get help from the University – to access this you should contact the UEA Student Support Service, who also have a page of information for students with children:

https://portal.uea.ac.uk/dos/money-matters/other-information/students-with-children

https://www.gov.uk/student-finance/extra-help

State benefits

This section applies to UK residents and EU residents. If you are an international student from outside the EU, it is likely that your student visa will specify that you may have “no recourse to public funds” which includes claiming state benefits.  Always check carefully before making any claim – the International Student Adviser Team  (https://portal.uea.ac.uk/dos/international-students/visa-support ) is the place to get help with this. Special benefits rules also apply to EU students.

If you have responsibility for a child you may be able to claim some benefits. Your student support (student loans and grants) can affect the amount of benefits you can get. See https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Your-Situation/Studying-(age-16-)/Student-Support/How-does-student-support-affect-benefits#guide-content for information on how this works.

The benefits you may be able to claim are (There are some differences if you live in Great Yarmouth – talk to an adviser if so) :

  • Child benefit, which is a non means tested benefit and available to all student parents with a child under 16 (or under 20 and in full time education). It is a fixed sum for each child. Students who have a high income, or whose partners have a high income, will be taxed on it.  To find out how to apply for Child Benefit see https://www.gov.uk/child-benefit/how-to-claim Child benefit will not affect your student finance.
  • If you have a child under 5, or your partner has, you may qualify for Income Support (IS). During the academic year, your Student Finance will take you over the threshold for this means-tested benefit to be paid, but  during the summer period – roughly for July and August - you should be paid the full amount of IS .  To find out how to claim see https://www.gov.uk/income-support/how-to-claim
  • If your child is over 5, and you are a lone parent, you can claim Job Seekers Allowance during the summer period provided you are available for, and actively seeking work. This also applies where both of a student parent couple are full time students.
  • Students with a disability who claim DLA or PIP can claim Employment Support Allowance - during term time your student loan is treated as income, but out of term your payments of ESA should increase to cover the fact that your student loan is not intended to cover the summer period.
  • If you qualify for Income Support/JSA because you have a child under 5 or claim ESA, you can claim Housing Benefit and Child Tax Credit. For information on Housing Benefit see https://www.gov.uk/housing-benefit/eligibility  and on Child Tax Credit see https://www.gov.uk/child-tax-credit

     

If you live in the Great Yarmouth area, you may instead need to claim Universal Credit. This is a new benefit which replaces benefits such as Income Support, JSA, ESA, CTC and Housing benefit.  If you live in the Norwich area, you can still claim IS and related benefits if you have a child.  To check for updates about whether you are in a Universal Credit area, see this map: http://dwp-stats.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Viewer/index.html?appid=1713828f61dc4c01a98eb9df1dcc5ab9

If you are a full-time student you will be exempt from Council Tax – but if you are part time, and have to pay Council Tax you may be able to claim Council Tax reduction if you are on a low income. 

You can check what benefits you might be able to claim online: try one of these benefit calculators:  Turn2us or entitledto , and find more information here: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/children-and-young-people/benefits-for-families-and-children/

Taking time off

As a student, you will need to apply to take a break in your studies (intercalate)  for the time you need to take off to when you are having a child. How long you need to take off will depend on many different factors, so talk it through with your midwife or GP, and your personal adviser, or supervisor before completing the form, or come along to advice|su where and advice worker can talk through all your options and the financial implications for you

Forms:

Undergraduate students : https://portal.uea.ac.uk/learning-and-teaching/students/forms  (You need to use an Extenuating Circumstances form to request a break in studies)

Postgraduate research students: https://portal.uea.ac.uk/postgraduate-research/concessions/research-student-concession

Parental rights at work

If you are a postgraduate research student, as well as intercalating, you will need to arrange to take time off from your job for maternity leave. What time you can take off will depend on the individual terms of your contract(s) of employment, as well as statutory rights to take time off. You should inform your employer(s) at least 15 weeks before your due date and when you want to start your leave.   If you have a contract of employment with UEA, you can find information on their policies for student parents here: https://www.uea.ac.uk/hr/employee-information/leave/maternity

There may be funding implications as well for PGR students, so talk to the PGR office about those at an early stage if you can. A health and safety assessment should be undertaken – how in depth this needs to be depends on the type of work and work environment – for example if any toxic substances are present. 

While you are away, you may qualify for statutory maternity /paternity/adoption pay if you earn at least £112 a week and will have worked for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before you are due.

For a summary of rights to time off and maternity/ pay see https://www.gov.uk/maternity-pay-leave/overview

Expectant parents are also entitled to paid time off for antenatal appointments: https://www.gov.uk/working-when-pregnant-your-rights

If you’re not currently working, or are self-employed, but have worked for at least 26 out of the last 66 weeks and earned at least £30 a week you may qualify for Maternity Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance/overview

For information about the rights of the partners of expectant parents see:

Paternity pay and leave: https://www.gov.uk/paternity-pay-leave

Shared parental leave and pay: https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/overview

Adoption pay and leave:  https://www.gov.uk/adoption-pay-leave

Finding childcare and schools

Suitable childcare is a crucial part of your support network as a student parent. You may be lucky enough to be able to rely on family support for some or all of your childcare requirements, but here are some starting points for the search 

Pre-school childcare/ nurseries

The two basic options are a day nursery or a registered childminder. Apart from cost, factors to consider when choosing between the two are:

  • What you feel would be best for your child
  • Location (see below)
  • Flexibility – nurseries can be strict about  drop off and pick up times, but a childminder may be willing to be more flexible

If you live outside Norwich you may decide to look for childcare closer to home. This is convenient for drop off in the mornings, and saves your child a lot of journeys, but can be stressful if teaching/work overruns and you have to race to get back in time for pick-up.

The two nurseries nearest to Campus are:

UEA nursery : https://portal.uea.ac.uk/nursery

Busy Bees: https://www.busybeeschildcare.co.uk/nursery/norwichnhs

Both fill up quickly, so plan as far ahead as you can.

Find a registered childminder: https://www.gov.uk/find-registered-childminder

You can check OFSTED reports for nurseries and childminders you are considering here: http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/

For information from University Student Support, see:

https://portal.uea.ac.uk/dos/childcare-and-family-life/childcare

Education

Nursery schools:

Find a nursery school place: https://www.gov.uk/find-nursery-school-place

Free nursery education (up to 15 hours a week for children 2+) https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/children-and-families/childcare-and-early-learning/free-childcare-and-learning/free-childcare-for-2-year-olds

School age children:

If you are moving to the area with school age children or have a child coming up to school age, you can find information on schools and admission processes here:

https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/education-and-learning/schools

For information from University Student Support, see:

https://portal.uea.ac.uk/dos/childcare-and-family-life/schooling

Housing

There are a very limited number of family houses available on campus - see https://portal.uea.ac.uk/accommodation/students-with-families

If you are looking for family accommodation, try online services such as Rightmove http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent.html/svr/2124;jsessionid=43705A6E97705ED7DD43A995CA9E3764  or Zoopla http://www.zoopla.co.uk/to-rent/

You can also find properties on sites such as Gumtree or in the local press such at the Eastern Daily Press. When you find something suitable, you can make an appointment with the Union Advice Centre to have your tenancy agreement checked before you sign up. We strongly recommend that you view a property in person before agreeing to rent it.  We also recommend that you be very cautious about paying substantial sums of money to secure a property unless you have viewed the property and/or checked that the agent or landlord you are paying the money to is an established and legitimate business.

For general advice on housing matters, see https://www.uea.su/advice-housing/advice/housingadvice/

Choosing where to live

When you chose the area you want to live in, consider factors such as

  • Travel options – is it on a bus route or within walking distance of the university?
  • What are the local schools like?  For information about  finding a school for your children, see http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Childrens_services/Schools/School_admissions/index.htm
  • What are local facilities like? Do need you access to shops within walking distance of home?
  • Do you want to live in a quiet family orientated area or somewhere with a busy social life?

Look out for housing information stands held over the year by the Advice Centre where you can ask any questions you have about housing such as which areas are popular, what transport links are like and what to look out for while house-hunting. See https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=13egIu5hcw1cbSa7dVMfshzcaIE8 for a map of Norwich showing the main student areas and public transport routes

Parent friendly campus

Facilities

The campus has a dedicated space for baby changing and feeding available to both staff and students in the Elizabeth Fry Building, Room 01.09, which can be used for baby changing, feeding and expressing milk.

Access to the room is for key-holders only and the key can be obtained by emailing equality@uea.ac.uk. Once you have a key you are welcome to keep it for as long as it is required. 

https://portal.uea.ac.uk/equality/breastfeeding-room

Elsewhere on campus, Union house is a breastfeeding friendly area – and you don’t need to plan ahead. If you prefer a secluded spot, the Napnook is quiet and comfortable and near changing facilities

Unio provides highchairs and will help with providing hot water for heating up food

There are changing facilities in the toilets upstairs in Union House, which are pushchair accessible using the lift. There are also changing facilities in the toilets near Vista, on the Square

Stay and Play

From January 2017, you can come along to the SU’s own “Stay and Play “ session for all students with children 0-5. You (and/or your partner) can bring your little one along for an hour or two of play and have the opportunity to network over a cuppa with others who are combining parenthood with study. An SU officer will be there at every session to answer questions (and make the tea if your hands are full!)  and once a month an Advice Worker from advice|su will be there to offer advice and support on anything you’d like to talk about.

Sessions run from 1-3 on alternate Wednesdays in the Nap Nook  in Union house, starting on 11 January.  No need to book but out of  term time, check ahead that the session is running.

For more details keep an eye on the SU website, Facebook and Twitter

Around the city and beyond

The National Childbirth Trust provide antenatal and postnatal courses for new parents and  offer ongoing support. The offer discounts on course fees if you are ona low income or receive some benefits. They also organise nearly new sales for baby equipment and kids' clothes, which are  a great way of cutting the cost of the stuff you need to get.  

Here are some ideas for activities with young children in and around Norwich if you are new to the area (taken from http://www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk/things-to-do/norwich):

The Base Soft Play (soft play area designed for kids under 6): http://baselineextreme.co.uk/play/

Castle Carveryhttp://www.castlecarvery.co.uk/PAGES/kids/kids.htm

Curious About Norwich Walks (most walks are push chair accessible and/or suitable for kids over the age of 6): http://www.curiousabout.co.uk/norwich/index.php

Norwich Puppet Theatre (shows for kids as young as 3, and occasionally do performances for children younger than that): http://www.dayoutwiththekids.co.uk/family-fun/Norwich_Puppet_Theatre/2492

The Plantation Garden  - a really lovely place to just sit and relax and have a picnic, not far out of the centre of the City: http://plantationgarden.co.uk/

The Sportspark at UEA has a lot of family sessions, particularly pool and gymnastics activities (during the school holidays kids between 5-15 can enter for £1.50): http://www.sportspark.co.uk/join-in/family-and-fitness-in-later-life

The Sainsbury Centre - see http://scva.ac.uk/whats-on/events/category/family-friendly for family friendly events

GRAVITY Trampoline Park at Riverside Norwich offers a wide variety of specialised activities - or simply come and have fun on our wall-to-wall trampolines www.gravity-uk.com

High Altitude trampoline park  http://highaltitudepk.co.uk/activities/altitude-tots/

Norfolk Dinosaur Park - visitor attraction about 25 minutes’ drive from Norwich, signposted from the A47 near Lenwade, between Norwich and Fakenham: http://www.dinosauradventure.co.uk/

ODEON for all the latest kids' movies: http://www.odeon.co.uk/kids/?ast=6D5Mc4

Stay and Play at Norwich High School: http://www.norwichhigh.gdst.net/469/school/nursery/stay-and-play