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Report: More Support Needed for Young Parents in Utah

About 11 percent of young people ages 18-24 in Utah are parents. (Dean Wissing/Flickr)
About 11 percent of young people ages 18-24 in Utah are parents. (Dean Wissing/Flickr)
September 26, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY - About 36,000 children in Utah have parents who are between the ages of 18 and 24, and a new Annie E. Casey Foundation report highlights the obstacles those young moms and dads face.

According to the report, just 17 percent of Utah parents age 18 to 24 have an associate's degree or higher. Terry Haven, deputy director of Voices for Utah Children, said young parents need opportunities to study and begin a career, but that can be a challenge if they're struggling to access child care, housing or health services.

"We want families to be self-sufficient, we want families to be able to take care of their children, and it's easier to do if they have an education," she said. "We need to make sure the policies really promote that kind of educational attainment."

Barriers to education and employment that young parents face can have lasting impacts on lifetime earnings, Haven said. The report showed that about 60 percent of children of young Utah parents are living in low-income families.

Rosa Maria Castaneda, a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said young parents nationwide face similar challenges. But she pointed out that enacting policies to assist these families helps two generations.

"There are still 6 million young adult parents and their children, and very high rates of low-income status," she said, "very high rates of poverty for this population that we need to pay attention to if we want to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty."

The Casey Foundation report recommended state and federal policies to boost workforce and educational programs, expand access to tax credits for young parents, and increase investment in child-care programs.

The report is online at aecf.org.

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service - UT