School-Linked Services for Adolescent Parents and their Children
We know that if we keep teen parents in school, we will be able to break the cycle of educational and economic failure among young families.
Ensuring funding for school-linked services for adolescent parents and their children.
Funding will enable the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning to expand critical grant support to Minnesota school districts to ensure
for teen parents:
- increased number of teen parents graduating from high school
- increased number transitioning into postsecondary education or into work
- decreased dependency on welfare
- improved parenting skills to decrease child abuse and neglect
- decreased incidence of subsequent births or greater spacing before repeat birth
- fewer low birthweight babies
- increased health screenings and immunizations
- increased participation in quality child care and development programs
- enhanced school readiness
- decreased high-risk behaviors in the future, including delinquency, early sexual activity, low academic achievement
The 1997 Minnesota Legislature created the Adolescent Parent Grant Program, allocating $1.3 million for grants to school-based, community-linked services. Applications for funding to the Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning totaled more than $2.2 million, and nine programs received grants. Current grantees report success in: reducing barriers to student enrollment, delivering quality child care to children of teen parents, helping students gain job-related skills and training, improving staff development in their work with adolescent parents, and additional monitoring and coordination of services for adolescent parents at the state level.
Adolescent parents and their children face high risks
Whiel few teen parents receive welfare benefits initially, more than 41% of families on MFIP in Minnesota in 1997 began with a birth to a teen. Minnesota spends about $12.2 million each month to provide welfare to families started by teen parents, $146 million each year. Teen parents with low educational attainment are likely to have a more difficult time finding a stable job that pays a livable wage.
Research indicates that 70% of teen mothers drop out of high school, and only 30% earn a high school diploma by age 30, compared with 76% of women who delay childbearing until age 20 or 21. However, if the adolescent mothers stay in school, they are almost as likely to graduate (73%) as women who do not become mothers while in high school (76%).
Teen fathers are also at high risk of lower educational achievement. In the United States, only 39% of teen fathers received high school certification by age 20 compared with 86% of male teens who did not father a child.
Teen parents with low educational attainment are likely to have a more difficult time finding a stable job that pays a livable wage. While few teen parents receive welfare benefits initially, more than 50% of families on AFDC in Minnesota in 1996 began with a birth to a teen.
The children of teen parents are more likely than children of older mothers to have health and cognitive disadvantages, to be abused, neglected, and/ or placed in foster care. The daughters of adolescent mothers are more likely to become adolescent mothers and the sons are at higher risk of becoming incarcerated.
Why funding is needed
The Adolescent Parent Grant Program enables school districts to collaborate with community agencies to ensure that the comprehensive needs of adolescent parents and their children are met. Young parents who have access to flexible school schedules, child care, transportation, academic and career preparation, counseling, parenting education, and health care are most likely to stay in school, prepare for their future as contributing members of the community, and develop positive parenting skills.
While the cost of providing early and comprehensive services to adolescent parents is significant, the future costs of not providing these services is likely to be even higher. Nationally, the federal government spends an estimated $34 billion each year on families begun by teenagers. One national study estimates that teen childbearing alone costs U.S. taxpayers nearly $7 billion annually for social services and lost tax revenues.
Help invest in a better, brighter future for two generations of todays children in Minnesota.