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Report: Connecticut Needs to Help Young Parents Succeed

In Connecticut, only 24 percent of young parents have an associate degree or higher. (peterjamesanthony/pixabay)
In Connecticut, only 24 percent of young parents have an associate degree or higher. (peterjamesanthony/pixabay)
September 25, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut is missing opportunities to help young parents succeed, according to a new report.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report, called "Opening Doors for Young Parents," said only 6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds in Connecticut are parents, a rate well below the national average. But 70 percent of the 22,000 children of young parents in the state live below twice the federal poverty level, slightly higher than the national average.

According to Kayla Goldfarb, policy analyst with the Connecticut Association for Human Services, these parents aren't getting the educational and job training opportunities that would help them get family-supporting jobs.

"We need to expand the opportunities for these young parents to connect to those jobs through child-care supports, through remedial education that helps those with high school degrees get to their associate's and from associate's up to bachelor’s,” Goldfarb said.

The report said less than one quarter of 18- to 24-year-old parents in Connecticut have an associate degree or higher.

Rosa Maria Castaneda, senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, pointed out that having a child is challenging for parents of any age. But young parents face additional hurdles because they are still developing themselves.

"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."

Nationally, 69 percent of almost 3 million young parents, raising nearly 3.5 million children, live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The report recommended what Goldfarb called a "two-generation approach" to assist young parents and their children.

"We have agencies that focus on parents and agencies that focus on children,” Goldfarb said. “But by bringing those two into conversation, we're hopeful that we can take some of the same strategies and resources and be more intentional, efficient and effective with our families."

The report made several recommendations for policy solutions at both state and federal levels to address the obstacles that young parents face.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT