Reports Explore Helping Young Parents Juggle Work and School

Posted December 8, 2019, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Young mother with child

Two reports funded by the Casey Foundation explore the benefits and challenges that young parents experience when they are working while in school or training. Released by the Urban Institute, the publications highlight the need for policies and programs that help young parents manage their busy schedules and afford their educations.

Read a Casey report about the challenges young parents face

The first report, Young Parents Making Their Way, found that young parents who spend time working while pursuing an education or training education ultimately earn higher incomes.

“When young parents gain work experience and credentials, they’re in better financial positions later in life,” says Rosa Maria Castañeda, a senior associate at the Casey Foundation who manages investments in two-generation approaches to parents and children succeed together.

Among the report’s findings:

  • every 10 months that young parents spend combining work and education through their 20s is associated with a $4,510 increase in family income by age 30 (though other factors are at play, the report notes);
  • African American and Latino young parents see the most dramatic changes, with every 10 months of combining work and education associated with more than $4,000 increases in individual income (compared to only $2,750 for white young parents); and
  • young parents who are “disconnected” — neither working or in school or training — experience a decrease in income by age 30.

The second report, Balancing Work With School and Training While Raising Young Children, found that young parents struggle to balance employment, education and family life and to afford child care.

Key findings include:

  • young parents juggling booth work and school typically spend 14% of their household income on child care — twice what the federal government recommends;
  • these parents spend 47 hours a week, on average, in work and school combined — about 10% more than the commitments of young parents who just work; and
  • many young parents rely on family members to care for their children in the evenings and on weekends, as finding and affording child care during nontraditional hours is difficult.

To help with these challenges, education and training providers should offer young parents flexible scheduling, tuition and transportation subsidies, child-care assistance, and coaching and counseling informed by the latest developmental research, the researchers advise. Lawmakers also should expand subsidies to help cover the cost of child care for more families.

“A strong system to help young families is not yet in place,” Castañeda says. “Policymakers, practitioners and advocates who engage with young parents should provide support tailored to their needs. That way, they can successfully balance their jobs and early care responsibilities without missing out on education and skill-building in this important stage of their lives.”

Learn about the experiences of two young parents balancing work and school

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