Resources Offer New Strategies for Supporting Young Parents
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:
- nearly one in five undergraduate college students are parents;
- the majority of community college students are women;
- a third of all female community college students are mothers; and
- most community college students who are mothers are also single.
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.