Young parents – both teen mothers and fathers – face a range of challenges that combine to create experiences far different from those of other young people or other parents.
When young parents fall through the cracks, their challenges can extend throughout their lives and the lives of their children. However, with proper support, young parents can lead successful lives and build successful families.
We work to support young families for three primary reasons:
- There is clear evidence that young families can succeed – and our state’s well being is deeply connected to their success.
- Helping teen parents graduate from high school and strengthen their parenting skills is crucial in ensuring that our communities have the strong families, healthy children, and educated workforce they need to thrive.
- In a state where nearly 30% of pregnancies are repeat pregnancies, helping young families postpone future pregnancies until adulthood is a key strategy to reducing the state’s teen pregnancy rate.
Technical Support for Programs Serving Young Families
We work closely with programs across North Carolina that serve pregnant and parenting young people. Technical support often includes:
- Providing information on the educational rights of pregnant and parenting students, including state and federal policies
- Advising programs on how to serve and engage young fathers
- Building collaborations between programs and school systems
- Recommending teen parenting and sex education curricula
- Reframing teen parenthood to build community support
- Advising programs on how to involve faith communities
We believe it’s imperative for communities to focus on programs that are effective. Otherwise, we risk leaving families, communities, and investments to chance.
Evidence-based adolescent parenting programs are built on logical steps to facilitate long-term self-sufficiency, build parenting capacity, and improve outcomes for young families. Effective programs tend to be comprehensive, relationship-based, developmentally appropriate, and responsive to participant’s needs. Services often focus on increasing health care access, parenting and life skills training, quality education, job training and career planning, child care, financial assistance, safe housing, case management, and family support to both fathers and mothers.
To learn more about the building-blocks of creating an effective program, we recommend reviewing Healthy Teen Network’s Young Families BDI Logic Model Toolkit.
Helping Communities Start Programs
Many communities recognize the need to support young parents, especially with teen parent programs or residential housing. We can help communities understand the path to building new programs. If you are considering developing a new service or program, please start by reviewing these materials:
- A Summary of the Rules Governing the Licensing and Funding of Maternity Homes in North Carolina
- Current Licensed Maternity Homes in North Carolina
Advocating for Effective Policies and Programs
Young parents and their children are especially vulnerable. We work with state agencies, lawmakers, and local administrators to ensure young parents are protected. This includes protecting their state and federal education rights, right to consent to medical care, access to health care and community safety nets and child care, and their parental rights as both mothers and fathers.
We also strongly advocate for state programs that help young parents succeed, like North Carolina’s Adolescent Parenting Program. The Adolescent Parenting Program is highly successful at helping young parents complete school, develop strong parenting skills, prevent repeat pregnancies, and attain economic self-sufficiency.
Linking Providers and Showcasing Best Practices
We work closely with North Carolina’s provider community to connect people to each other and to important resources. This includes:
- Showcasing programs that incorporate best practices
- Incorporating workshops specific to young parents’ needs into our Training Calendar. Past workshop topics include perinatal depression, parenting skills for teens, school success, safe housing, and fatherhood support.
- Including literature on young families in our Resource Library
- Linking providers to state and national resources
- Presenting on education law and school policy with groups across North Carolina. If you have basic questions about the education rights of young parents, start with:
Providing Critical Information
We have created two pages on this website that can help you understand how to help pregnant and parenting young people:
- Resources for Young Parents - This page is written just for young moms and dads! It covers basic information about their rights and how to build healthy families and futures. Share it with young parents you know or use it yourself as a primer.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Teen Parents - This page is a huge resource center for questions about rights, processes, and procedures related to education, economic stability, child care, and more.
Have more questions about how to work with young families? Contact Young Family Support Program Manager Kathy Putnam.