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.
Education and Employment
The main educational issue that needs to be addressed for expectant and parenting young families is school completion. Teen births are strongly linked to dropping out of high school.1 Only about half of teen mothers attain their high school diploma by the time they are 22 years old, compared to about 90 percent of women who do not give birth while they are a teenager.2 Teen fathers are less likely to graduate high school than male adolescents who are not expecting and are not parenting. Research has found that teenage fathers who participate in childcare and have “breadwinning responsibilities” are more likely to graduate high school.3
Dropping out of high school because of teen pregnancy and parenting can lead to a number of issues including reduced earning potential, lack of development in employment skills, and a higher likelihood of living in poverty. These setbacks can lead to problems for the entire family, especially for the child and their physical, social, and cognitive outcomes. Children who are born to teenage mothers are more likely to have lower educational achievement outcomes, to drop out of high school, acquire more health problems, become a teen parent, and experience juvenile incarceration and unemployment in adulthood.4
There should be a concerted effort to ensure that an expectant or parenting young family has the resources and support necessary to:
- Graduate high school or complete their GED; and
- Complete post-secondary education, vocational training, and/or attain employment at a livable wage.5
School-based interventions have been shown to help improve school retention in this population, facilitate meaningful relationships between teens and program staff, and provide comprehensive services that are easily accessible.6 The following types of programming have been found to be effective in increasing the rate of high school completion or receiving a GED:
- vocational training,
- alternative schooling,
- social-emotional skills training,
- college-oriented programming,
- mentoring and counseling,
- supplemental academic services,
- school and class restructuring, and
- attendance monitoring and contingencies.7
Keeping Teen Parents on Track for Graduation
This webpage from the CDC provides a “Public Health Practice Story from the Field” and focuses on the state efforts in Connecticut to keep teen parents in school and graduate from high school. An overview of the initiative, Supports for Pregnant and Parenting Teens (SPPT), is provided as well as the program’s results.
MN Student Parent Support Initiative: Advancing Health and Higher Education for Student Parents
This video describes centers that help Minnesota university and college students with children stay enrolled in school.
New Heights: A Support Network for Expecting and Parenting Teens
This video describes a Washington, DC, program that builds parenting skills and is working to close the achievement gap between young parents and their peers.
Supporting the Academic Success of Pregnant and Parenting Students (PDF, 34 pages)
This publication from the Department of Education provides an extensive overview of how best to support expectant and parenting young families under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Supporting Young Fathers
This webpage from the Office of Population Affairs describes the Fatherhood Healthy Relationships Initiative for young fathers in the Success for Expectant & Parenting Teens New Jersey (PSNJ) program. PSNJ aimed to help adolescent parents successfully complete their education, improve health outcomes, increase parenting skills, and decrease intimate partner violence.
Other Resources on this Topic
Tools & Guides
Videos & Podcasts
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
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.
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.
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 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).