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Early Learning Access Crucial for Young Parents, Report Says

Increasing access to early childhood education is one key strategy for helping young parents. (Jay Inslee/Flickr)
Increasing access to early childhood education is one key strategy for helping young parents. (Jay Inslee/Flickr)
September 25, 2018

SEATTLE — Parenting is an immense test for even the most financially secure Washington parents, but the challenge can be even greater for young adults.

A report out Tuesday from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, called "Opening Doors for Young Parents," stressed the need for increased programs to support people between the ages of 18 and 24 who have children. Allison Krutsinger, early learning policy director at the Children's Alliance, said investing in early learning and child care are critical ways Washington state can help parents.

"Especially young parents who are going through parenthood for the first or second time but are still young themselves,” Krutsinger said. “Having those really responsive adults and caregivers in their lives - that are not only caring for their children but also bringing them in and along - can have profound impacts."

About 62,000 Washington children have young parents, and 63 percent of those children live in low-income households, according to the report. Krutsinger said investing in home-visiting programs, supporting working parents and expanding eligibility for preschool are concrete strategies for helping young parents.

The report also recommended states provide increased access to child care, housing and employment opportunities.

Rosa Maria Castaneda, senior associate with the Casey Foundation, said the transition to parenthood is a huge learning curve for anyone, and young parents are facing many milestones at the same time.

"It's really sort of a crunch time for them,” Castaneda said. “They're facing the challenges of transitioning to adulthood, moving into employment, getting a good job, trying to get an education to get on a viable career pathway."

The report also found more than 40 percent of young parents in Washington are people of color, who face additional challenges of discrimination and systemic inequities.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA