Opening Doors for Young Parents

Often overlooked are the more than 6 million people in the U.S.—3 million young adult parents and more than 3 million children of young parents—who are full of extraordinary potential to strengthen America’s economy for the next two generations.

With limited access to opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs, Michigan’s 85,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, the latest KIDS COUNT policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The report promotes the use of a two-generation approach and outlines a number of policy recommendations:

● Help young parents pursue education and employment: States should boost workforce and education programs with supportive services tailored to the barriers young parents face to help them compete in a rapidly changing labor market. These should aim to reduce racial and ethnic disparities with a focus on disinvested communities.

● Help young parents achieve financial stability: Governments should make sure benefit programs do not exclude young parents: Congress should lower the eligibility for the childless worker’s Earned Income Tax Credit to 21, and states should expand state EITC to all workers ages 18 to 25. States should ensure young parents and children have health insurance, including screening for maternal depression.

● Help young parents with child development and healthy parenting: States should prioritize evidence-based approaches such as home visits; make family planning and reproductive care accessible to reduce repeat unplanned pregnancies; increase access to infant and toddler care that is both high-quality and affordable; and prioritize care that equips young parents to understand children’s developmental stages.

● Keep families together and promote success for young parents involved in systems: States should leverage new federal provisions to extend additional support until age 26 for parents in foster care, and they should avoid separating babies from children solely because the new young parent is in foster care. Agencies should consider targeted matched-savings programs such as Opportunity Passport™ to help system-involved young parents save for basic assets and needs.
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