Success of Teen Parents and Their Children
Teen parents face multiple, difficult challenges in their lives. Child care, education, employment, housing, health care, nutrition, and physical and emotional safety are all requisite conditions or services that must be present if teen parents and their children are to be successful. If any of these is inadequate or missing, the teen parent may struggle to be successful. For instance, a teen parent may have access to health care, be in a safe and adult-supervised environment, have adequate nutrition, and be enrolled in a high school with good support services, but if the teen parent is not able to find dependable child care, the likelihood is she/he will not complete school, severely limiting employment opportunities and long-term success.
Professionals working with teen parents typically have responsibility for only one of these critical areas related to their employment (i.e., health care, education, social services, public health, public support). However, focusing on one of these areas to the exclusion of the others is clearly not in the best interests of teen parents. Professionals working with teen parents can use the questions below to screen their clients/patients in all of these areas and take the necessary steps to connect them to appropriate services should any of the areas appear to be inadequately addressed.
- Does the teen have a safe place to live?
- Does the housing meet minimal requirements for health and safety (e.g., adequate heat, free of pests)?
- Is the housing transient or permanent?
- Who is the teen living with?
- What kinds of foods do the teen and child(ren) eat?
- Does the teen have sufficient resources to maintain an adequate diet for her(him)self and her/his child(ren)?
Physical and Emotional Safety
- Does the teen have positive emotional support from caring and responsible adults?
- Is the teen involved in any kind of an abusive relationship?
- Does the teen have a history of depression or other mental illness? Is she/he currently experiencing any symptoms? Does the teen have a history of prior pregnancy loss?
- Does the teen interact with her/his child(ren) in a nurturing manner?
- How does the teen refer to her/his child(ren) (e.g., by name, by gender, as "the baby" or "it", or perhaps not at all)?
- Does the (pregnant) teen have a birth plan and a plan for the infant after birth?
- Does the teen have child care that will allow the teen to participate in an educational program and, if necessary and appropriate, a job?
- Is the child care safe and dependable?
- Does the teen have sufficient resources to cover the costs of child care?
- Does the teen have insurance or other sufficient resources to cover the costs of health care?
- Is the teen accessing necessary health care services for her(him)self and her/his child(ren)?
- Is the teen enrolled in an educational program to complete high school or some type of post-high school degree or certificate?
- Does the educational program allow the teen to balance her/his other responsibilities (e.g., parent, employee)?
- Has the teen accessed available school-based programs to support high school completion?
- Has the teen accessed available programs, grants, and/or loans to help support post-high school education?
- Does the teen have sufficient means to support her(him)self and her/his child(ren) or is the teen being adequately supported by someone else (e.g., parents or spouse)?
- Does the teen need or have a job?
- Does the job allow the teen to balance her/his other responsibilities (e.g., parent and student)?
- Is the job sufficient to support the teen and her/his child(ren)?