Resources Offer New Strategies for Supporting Young Parents

Posted December 12, 2022, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

A young Hispanic mother smiles while cuddling her young child.

In this resource roundup, learn how Casey Foun­da­tion part­ners are design­ing new strate­gies to bet­ter sup­port young parents.

Young par­ents, whether they are work­ing, enrolled in col­lege or nav­i­gat­ing both, face unique chal­lenges every day,” says Quanic Fullard, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion, spe­cial­iz­ing in two-gen­er­a­tion approach­es.​“This col­lec­tion of resources from Casey grantees spot­lights new approach­es and tools that insti­tu­tions that sup­port young par­ents can adopt.”

Best Prac­tices for Serv­ing Young Parents

A new Urban Insti­tute blog fund­ed by the Casey Foun­da­tion shares pow­er­ful insights from orga­ni­za­tions serv­ing young par­ents across the Unit­ed States.

The blog spot­lights rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion and The Door in New York City — both part­ners of the Learn and Earn to Achieve Poten­tial (LEAP)™ ini­tia­tive. The blog also high­lights a pro­gram man­ag­er from Hen­nepin Health­care, a Min­neso­ta-based orga­ni­za­tion that col­lab­o­rates with LEAP part­ner, Project for Pride in Liv­ing.

While these orga­ni­za­tions serve dis­tinct com­mu­ni­ties in states across the coun­try, each is ded­i­cat­ed to strength­en­ing ser­vices for young par­ents. To dis­cov­er how oth­ers can learn from their approach­es, all three rep­re­sen­ta­tives were asked the same ques­tion: How can orga­ni­za­tions bet­ter serve young par­ents to help them tran­si­tion to adult­hood and sup­port their families?

  • Sara Rif­fel, vice pres­i­dent of old­er youth sys­tems for the Nebras­ka Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies Foun­da­tion, says that her team starts by reach­ing out to young par­ents and deter­min­ing pri­or­i­ties based on their input. From there, they bring in cross-sec­tor part­ners — such as schools, com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions and gov­ern­ment agen­cies — to deter­mine shared goals and act. 
  • Shavaughn Stew­art, super­vi­sor of fos­ter care pro­gram­ming for The Door, says con­nect­ing young par­ents to orga­ni­za­tions that offer food and nutri­tion sup­port, post­par­tum care work­shops or sup­plies for chil­dren and par­ents is crit­i­cal to their long-term suc­cess. She also says that it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize that young par­ents are often deal­ing with men­tal health chal­lenges from their own child­hoods. Through a par­ent­ing pro­gram that empha­sizes self-care, The Door helps young par­ents address their men­tal health so they can be the best par­ents possible.
  • Mary Pat Sig­urd­son, Teen­HOPE and Path­ways pro­gram man­ag­er for Hen­nepin Health­care, says young par­ents often have dif­fi­cul­ty access­ing pub­lic assis­tance and can lose access to the finan­cial sup­port they need because of com­pli­cat­ed rules or paper­work that isn’t sub­mit­ted cor­rect­ly. Her orga­ni­za­tion pri­or­i­tizes iden­ti­fy­ing young par­ents who need help nav­i­gat­ing these bar­ri­ers and help­ing them stay on track.

Improv­ing Sup­port for Stu­dent Par­ents at Austin Com­mu­ni­ty College

Casey grantee Achiev­ing the Dream recent­ly released a blog high­light­ing Austin Com­mu­ni­ty College’s efforts to devel­op greater assis­tance for stu­dent par­ents across 11 cam­pus­es and 25 learn­ing cen­ters. This work is sup­port­ed through the Casey Foundation’s Expand­ing Oppor­tu­ni­ties for Young Fam­i­lies (EOYF) ini­tia­tive, a five-year effort that aims to bol­ster the edu­ca­tion­al and eco­nom­ic suc­cess of young parents. 

The blog notes that:

The blog show­cas­es Austin Com­mu­ni­ty College’s Stu­dent Advo­ca­cy Cen­ter, which helps con­nect stu­dents to child care or text­book schol­ar­ships as well as com­mu­ni­ty resources relat­ed to unem­ploy­ment, finan­cial sup­port, hous­ing, food, emo­tion­al sup­port, and health and well­ness. The Unit­ed Way of Greater Austin, anoth­er Casey grantee, has part­nered with the Stu­dent Advo­ca­cy Cen­ter to change how they deliv­er ser­vices to par­ent­ing students.

The col­lege also is one of five schools select­ed to par­tic­i­pate in Stu­dent Par­ent Oppor­tu­ni­ty Assess­ments. Led by Achiev­ing the Dream coach­es with the sup­port of the Casey Foun­da­tion, these assess­ments allow par­tic­i­pat­ing col­leges to col­lect data, gath­er stu­dent and staff input, learn about best prac­tices on oth­er cam­pus­es and deter­mine how best to meet the needs of students.

Soon, Austin Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege hopes to start new efforts to help stu­dent par­ents, such as a $500 month­ly stipend intend­ed to reduce reliance on part-time employ­ment dur­ing the school year. 

A New Tool for Authen­tic Par­ent Part­ner­ships in Philanthropy

The Unit­ed Par­ent Lead­ers Action Net­work (UPLAN) and the Fun­ders for Fam­i­ly Lead­er­ship (FFL), both Casey grantees, have released a self-assess­ment tool to improve phil­an­thropic prac­tices for devel­op­ing authen­tic par­ent partnerships.

The Phil­an­thropic Self-Reflec­tion Tool for Equi­table Par­ent Part­ner­ship allows fun­ders in phil­an­thropy to con­sid­er the pos­si­ble unin­tend­ed con­se­quences of their prac­tices on par­ent com­mu­ni­ties and inform impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions that can lead to changes in prac­tices, more equi­table rela­tion­ships with fam­i­lies and bet­ter com­mu­ni­ty outcomes.

The tool was devel­oped through a UPLAN-led research process that focused on the voic­es and expe­ri­ences of par­ents and par­ent-led groups. 

Learn more about the chal­lenges fac­ing young parents

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