The Annie E. Casey Foundation released a report today highlighting the effect of becoming a parent as a teen or young adult. Opening Doors for Young Parents offers recommendations for policymakers to invest in ensuring these young families find pathways to success.

Young parents are those who have children in their teens and early 20s. This report relies on data from an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which found that there are about 3 million parents ages 18 to 24 in the United States. The survey also found that in the state of Rhode Island there are 6,000 parents ages 18 to 24.

Today, 3.4 million children in this country — 22 percent of all children under 5 in low-income families — live with parents ages 18 to 24. Sixty-nine percent of the children of these young parents, most of them babies, toddlers and preschoolers, live in low-income families. In Rhode Island, 79 percent of children of young parents live in low-income families.

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“Parenthood at a young age places two generations at risk for poor outcomes – both the parent, and the child,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. “Opening Doors for Young Parents shines a spotlight on how we can empower young parents to fulfill their education and earning potential and develop the skills they need to provide a strong start for their children, as well as
contribute to their communities.”

Critical Developmental Periods: “Two Open Windows”

Young parents are those who have children in their teens and early 20s. This report relies on data from an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, which found that there are about 3 million parents ages 18 to 24 in the United States. The survey also found that in the state of Rhode Island there are 6,000 parents ages 18 to 24.

Today, 3.4 million children in this country — 22 percent of all children under 5 in low-income families — live with parents ages 18 to 24. Sixty-nine percent of the children of these young parents, most of them babies, toddlers and preschoolers, live in low-income families. In Rhode Island, 79 percent of children of young parents live in low-income families.

“Parenthood at a young age places two generations at risk for poor outcomes – both the parent, and the child,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. “Opening Doors for Young Parents shines a spotlight on how we can empower young parents to fulfill their education and earning potential and develop the skills they need to provide a strong start for their children, as well as contribute to their communities.”

Policy Recommendations

The Casey Foundation provides four policy recommendations to ensure these young families find pathways to success:

1. Create more opportunities for young parents to pursue education and employment.
2. Invest in programs that help young parents achieve financial stability during their children’s early years and keep more of what they earn.
3. Surround young parents with supportive services that reduce stress and child development and healthy parenting.
4. Keep families together and promote success for young parents involved in systems.

“If we don’t support young people when they become parents, we are cheating two generations out of having a positive future,” warned Casey Foundation President and CEO Patrick McCarthy. “We can help young adult parents develop the skills they need to raise their children, contribute to their communities, and drive our national economy forward.”

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