Opening Doors for Young Parents

While the share of Missouri teens and young adults having children has dropped steadily and significantly – approximately 40% since the early 1990s, the Population Reference Bureau of the U.S. Census estimates approximately 67,000 Missourians between the ages of 18-24 were parents living with their children, also estimated to be approximately 67,000, based on responses to the Current Population Survey collected between 2015 and 2017. Of these young parents with young children, approximately 40% live in poverty and 65-70% will live in households with incomes at 200% of the federal poverty guidelines or less.

And while it’s common for young adults to begin their working lives in relatively lower wage jobs, young parents face particular challenges in achieving sustainable self-sufficiency. Young parents both struggle to realize their educational goals in an optimal timeframe while shouldering the cost of childrearing earlier than their peers.

The Opening Doors for Young Parents report explores potential policy solutions to address these challenges, and is grounded on two evidence-based assumptions:

  • 18-24 year olds are still developing cognitively.
  • 18-24 year old parents face all of the educational, labor market, and workforce challenges that all 18-24 year olds face.

The policy solutions explored address the developmental, socio-emotional, educational, and economic needs of young parents and their children:

  • Keeping young parents on educational track by ensuring affordable quality childcare.
  • Ensuring early childhood development resources and services are authentically available/provided to the children of young parents.
  • Flexibility in federal funding streams that allow states to merge/create programs that work within the institutional structures and relationships of that state.
  • Resources and programming that build skills and commitment between young parents and to their children regardless of household structure or parents’ relationship.
  • Access to Medicaid coverage and other entitlement programs for your young parents as incentive to move forward with educational/vocational opportunity.
  • Lowering of age of eligibility for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 21 years.
  • Programs and initiatives should explicitly take into account the developmental needs and potential of both young parents and children.

To read the full report, click here.

September 25, 2018