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Report: Time to Change the Odds for Young Adult Parents

77 percent of young adult parents in Texas are people of color who face discrimination and inequities in opportunities. Photo: Pixabay

by Mary Kuhlman

AUSTIN, Texas – Finding their footing in life is a struggle for many young adults in Texas, and it’s especially challenging for those who are also raising children.

report released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that 450,000 Texas kids have parents between the ages of 18 and 24, and 65 percent live in low-income households. Frances Deviney, CEO at the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, explained the odds cannot be changed by focusing only on the children in these families – their parents are still growing, too.

“Our brains don’t fully develop until we’re 25,” Deviney said. “And people who are still having babies while they’re still babies too, they need additional supports to figure out the tough steps in life.”

The report recommended state-level approaches that will help young parents pursue education and employment. Those include expanded workforce programs that integrate positive youth development and mentoring, as well as ensuring that government benefit programs include young parents.

Deviney said too many young adult parents in Texas cannot access the higher education that could boost their earning power.

“Only like 1 in 9 young parents have actually completed any kind of post-secondary degree, an associate degree at a community college, or four year college,” she said. “So they’re starting off already behind the curve when they are looking for those jobs that actually pay living wages. ”

Senior associate at the Casey Foundation Rosa Maria Castaneda explained that expanded parenting skills programs and increased access to high-quality childcare can also improve outcomes for these families.

“Young parents told us and have reported in surveys that childcare is one of the big pieces that they struggle with to be able to make ends meet and participate in the economy successfully,” Castaneda said.

The report noted that 3 in 4 young adult parents in Texas are people of color, whose challenges are exacerbated by discrimination and systemic inequities in employment, housing and education.

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