Government Programs for Teen Parents: Do They Work?
Discrimination against pregnant and parenting students became illegal in 1972 with the passage of Title IX of Educational Amendments Act. (Lee) Teen mothers continued to lag behind. “Growing evidence now suggests that the negative outcomes of teen mothering for mothers and their children are due primarily to mothers’ prior disadvantages and not young maternal age.” (Lee) Do government changes and programs actually work to help teenage mothers graduate and further their educations? Or do they focus mainly on the behavioral and psychological impact of social support programs (such as child care and parenting, counseling services, and nutritional assistance) for teenage mothers and their children?
The people most likely to end up pregnant are more likely to already be experiencing school failure, behavioral and family problems, and last but definitely not least, poverty. Teen parenting leads to less opportunity for mother and child. Less than one-third of girls under eighteen who begin families never earn their high school diplomas. Children born to teen mothers are more likely to repeat this cycle. “Teenage mothers have and increased likelihood of dropping out of school and having inadequate job skills, health risks, lower self-esteem, higher risk of unemployment, and long-term welfare dependency.” (Hong and Wellen)
Little focus has been given to repercussions of welfare use for enrollment in educational programs by teenage mothers. Focusing on the social support programs instead neglect the importance of economic support programs to help teenage mothers support themselves and their child, such as food stamps, WIC, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). (Hong and Wellen)
More than half of the teenage mothers who drop out of school never return for a high school diploma. Teen mothers have difficulty arranging and paying for child care while attending school. “Lack of state policy, funding, reliable data, and knowledge regarding numbers and needs of these students deter many school districts from developing educational policies and programs for this student population.” (Pillow) Urban districts often push pregnant students into separate programs that focus on basic skills, and suburban districts are more likely to remain where they have access to a full range of academic and vocational programs. While the urban schools maybe lower academic quality, they are more likely to accommodate pregnancy and parenting needs of students.
Teen parenting leaves many victims regarding education; fifty percent of teen parents will not graduate high school before the age of thirty. Teen mothers are encouraged to stay in school and with the numerous state and federal programs eighty percent do, but do not stay. The stress of taking care of a baby, burden of household tasks, and the problem of financial support all take their toll and most will not earn a diploma. Teen mothers need to be made a priority population for income eligible child care that allows them to finish school and become self-supporting.
“Several programs have been implemented throughout the country to improve outcomes for teen parents.” These programs provide a wide range of services, including education programs, job training, child care, and transportation. A major downfall is that these programs are not available everywhere. Many of these programs seem to be ineffective where they are available. The reason for ineffectiveness may be that young parents suffer from multiple disadvantages. These teens face the demands of raising a child as an adolescent, and also may live in poverty with low levels of education. Most scholars now agree that the disadvantaged social conditions account for some, if not most, of long-term negative effects of teen mothering.
Government programs do not work without the proper support for the teenage moms. Mentors help with self-perception and...
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