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Expectant and Parenting Young Families

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In 2016, nearly 210,000 babies were born to women between ages 15 and 19. This represented an eight percent decrease in birth rates for this age group from 2015.1 The needs and wellbeing of expectant and parenting young people are an ongoing priority for local and federal programming and service providers.

Expectant and parenting young families have unique needs that require special attention to best promote positive short- and long-term outcomes. The needs of expectant and parenting young families can be complex and interconnected. As a group, they are more likely to be low-income and face more challenges in completing a high school education and receiving adequate prenatal care. Pregnant teens are also more likely to smoke during pregnancy, receive inadequate nutrition, and give birth to low birth weight and pre-term infants.2 Additionally, almost 20 percent of births to teen mothers are repeat births, which is a second or more pregnancy ending in a live birth before the age of 20.3 Research shows that providing support services to expectant and parenting young families can make a difference in improving educational, health, and social outcomes for expectant and parenting young people and their families.4

Expectant and parenting young people are likely to come into contact with multiple sectors such as primary care, emergency care, social services, juvenile justice, and mental health care. This population is likely to need different types of support, including help with promoting self-sufficiency and positive outcomes in their education, housing, finances, parenting skills, and healthy relationships (e.g., co-parenting, conflict resolution).5 Therefore it is important for service providers to have a comprehensive understanding of the distinctive challenges and needs of expectant and parenting young people to be able to best serve them and their child(ren).

Resources

Expectant and Parenting Teens Resources
This webpage from the Office of Adolescent health provides a wide range of resources to help service providers give support to expectant and parenting teens and their family members.

Importance of Working with Pregnant and Parenting Teens (PDF, 2 pages)
In this transcript of an Office of Adolescent Health podcast, reviews why it is important to help support expectant and parenting teens and what can be done to help improve their health and well-being.

Supporting Expectant and Parenting Teens: Practical Recommendations from the Field (PDF, 106)
This slide set provides practical recommendations from the Office of Adolescent Health’s Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) grantees on how best to support expectant and parenting teens.

Supporting Pregnant and Parenting Teens
This webpage from the Child Welfare Information Gateway provides information on parenting tips, resources, to support pregnant and parenting teens. Resources include state and local examples.

National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, managed by the Office of Family Assistance of the Office of the Administration of Children & Families, provides resources for responsible fatherhood information, designed to promote and encourage the appropriate involvement of fathers in the lives of their children through curricula, webinars, and other resources.

Working with Pregnant and Parenting Teens Tip Sheet (PDF, 8 pages)
This tip sheet developed by the Family and Youth Services Bureau provides a comprehensive overview of important topics concerning expectant and parenting teens and working with this population.

AIM 4 Teen Moms
AIM 4 Teen Moms seeks to reduce rapid repeat pregnancies by helping teen mothers define specific life aspirations, engage in planning to successfully achieve them, and consider the role of contraception in their lives. The ten-week program consists of six one-hour individual sessions, one 90-minute group session at the halfway point, and another 90-minute group session at the end of the program. It is delivered by trained facilitators in teens' homes and/or community-based locations. This publication has more detailed information on the AIM 4 Teen Moms program.

Generations
Generations is a family-centered medical home program that provides integrated medical care, including pregnancy prevention, mental health care, and social work services for teen parent families. Teen parents and their children receive care from the same medical provider, often in the same visit. Additionally, families receive comprehensive support, including primary care, social work services, mental health and developmental screenings, and mental health services if needed, all at the same medical facility. The program aims to improve mental and physical health outcomes for teen parents and their children, and to reduce repeat pregnancies.

References

1 Martin et al., 2018
2 Family and Youth Services Bureau, 2012
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013
4 Asheer, Burklander, Deke, Worthington, & Zief, 2017; Covington, Luca, Manlove, & Welti, 2017
5 Family and Youth Services Bureau, 2012

Other Resources on this Topic

Youth Briefs

How Individualized Education Program (IEP) Transition Planning Makes a Difference for Youth with Disabilities

Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.

Youth Transitioning to Adulthood: How Holding Early Leadership Positions Can Make a Difference

Research links early leadership with increased self-efficacy and suggests that leadership can help youth to develop decision making and interpersonal skills that support successes in the workforce and adulthood. In addition, young leaders tend to be more involved in their communities, and have lower dropout rates than their peers. Youth leaders also show considerable benefits for their communities, providing valuable insight into the needs and interests of young people

How Trained Service Professionals and Self-Advocacy Makes a Difference for Youth with Mental Health, Substance Abuse, or Co-occurring Issues

Statistics reflecting the number of youth suffering from mental health, substance abuse, and co-occurring disorders highlight the necessity for schools, families, support staff, and communities to work together to develop targeted, coordinated, and comprehensive transition plans for young people with a history of mental health needs and/or substance abuse.

Young Adults Formerly in Foster Care: Challenges and Solutions

Nearly 30,000 youth aged out of foster care in Fiscal Year 2009, which represents nine percent of the young people involved in the foster care system that year. This transition can be challenging for youth, especially youth who have grown up in the child welfare system.

Coordinating Systems to Support Transition Age Youth with Mental Health Needs

Research has demonstrated that as many as one in five children/youth have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Read about how coordination between public service agencies can improve treatment for these youth.

Civic Engagement Strategies for Transition Age Youth

Civic engagement has the potential to empower young adults, increase their self-determination, and give them the skills and self-confidence they need to enter the workforce. Read about one youth’s experience in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC).