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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