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Report: Young Idaho Parents Are in Transition, Need Support

Young parents face many transitions in life that can leave them financially vulnerable. (rebekah/Twenty20)
Young parents face many transitions in life that can leave them financially vulnerable. (rebekah/Twenty20)
September 25, 2018

BOISE, Idaho — Parenting can be a challenge for even the most financially secure Idahoans, but the hardships can be even greater for young parents.

A report out Tuesday by 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. Christine Tiddens, Community outreach director with Idaho Voices for Children, said young parents have a lot of transitions going on, including finishing school and entering the workforce, that can leave them financially vulnerable.

"Young parents face multiple obstacles to achieving their goals and these obstacles often threaten not just the young parents, but also their children,” Tiddens said. “So it can set off a whole chain of weakened opportunities for Idaho's future generations."

Tiddens said young parents in Idaho benefit from voluntary home-visiting programs that match parents with trained professionals, but resources for this approach are limited. Children's advocates across the state are calling for greater investment into these programs.

About 25,000 children in Idaho have young parents and 62 percent live in low-income households.

The report recommended states provide increased access to child care, housing and employment opportunities. Rosa Maria Castaneda, senior associate with the Casey Foundation, said adulthood and parenthood are both challenges for young parents.

"They want to be successful at both, and it's in our interest to help them be successful as both emerging workers, providers for their children and to help their young children thrive,” Castaneda said.

The report also recommended Idaho and 16 other states expand Medicaid so that more people have access to health insurance. It noted that children are more likely to have health coverage if their parents are covered. Idahoans will get a chance to vote on Medicaid expansion in November.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID