Fewer Young Parents in America, But Millions Still Need Support

Posted October 19, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Updates feweryoungparents 2021

The share of youth and young adults ages 18 to 24 who are par­ents in the Unit­ed States has been declin­ing in recent decades, and fell to 7% in 20152019. Accord­ing to the lat­est data in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter, this fig­ure also declined for all racial and eth­nic groups and for all states from 20062010 to 20152019.

Cross-sec­tor efforts have been focused on reduc­ing unplanned preg­nan­cy among youth for many years, and these efforts are work­ing. How­ev­er, while the share of young par­ents is decreas­ing, the nation still has more than 2.1 mil­lion teens and young adults with chil­dren who need sup­port nav­i­gat­ing the dif­fi­cult tran­si­tions to adult­hood and parenthood.

A recent Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion report on young par­ents described com­mon chal­lenges for this group, includ­ing finan­cial and hous­ing insta­bil­i­ty, inter­rupt­ed edu­ca­tion, employ­ment obsta­cles, par­ent­ing stress, health issues and dif­fi­cul­ty access­ing qual­i­ty child care and health care. The same report also found that 3.4 mil­lion U.S. chil­dren live with par­ents ages 18 to 24, and near­ly 40% of them (most­ly infants, tod­dlers and preschool­ers) live in poverty.

Research indi­cates that pro­vid­ing sup­port to young fam­i­lies at this vul­ner­a­ble time could yield life­long ben­e­fits. Both young par­ents and their young chil­dren are going through crit­i­cal phas­es of brain devel­op­ment, mak­ing this a key oppor­tu­ni­ty to sup­port both groups as they mature cog­ni­tive­ly. Pol­i­cy­mak­ers and oth­ers can help ensure that these par­ents have con­nec­tions with car­ing adults and men­tors, edu­ca­tion­al and work­force train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, access to qual­i­ty health care and child care, paid time off from work and oth­er basic forms of sup­port, set­ting them on a path toward fam­i­ly and eco­nom­ic stability.

Young Par­ents Data by State and Territory

At the state lev­el in 20152019, the share of young par­ents ranged from 3% in Mass­a­chu­setts to 12% in Arkansas. While the per­cent­age of young par­ents decreased in all states between 20062010 and 20152019, the declines were espe­cial­ly pro­nounced in Alas­ka, Ida­ho, New Mex­i­co and Wyoming.

This fig­ure dropped in Puer­to Rico, as well, from 13% to 8% dur­ing this timeframe.

Local, state and nation­al lead­ers can build on this momen­tum by con­tin­u­ing to pro­mote efforts to reduce unplanned preg­nan­cy and bol­ster­ing sup­port for young par­ents and their chil­dren, giv­ing par­tic­u­lar con­sid­er­a­tion to the per­spec­tives of par­ents them­selves, the needs of fathers in addi­tion to moth­ers, the needs of par­ents involved in the fos­ter care and jus­tice sys­tems and oppor­tu­ni­ties to advance racial equity.

Con­tin­ue Learn­ing About Young Parents

Explore all data about youth and young adults in the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter. Also, learn more about the chal­lenges fac­ing young par­ents and pol­i­cy solu­tions to sup­port them in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s report, Open­ing Doors for Young Par­ents.

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